Ackneil 'Neil' Muldrow II, Baltimore banker and community financial advocate, dies

Ackneil M. Muldrow II, a retired banker who headed a minority development credit fund and advocated for emerging businesses, died of heart failure Oct. 25 at Sinai Hospital. The Pikesville resident was 80.

“A lot of people owe their successful careers to him,” said former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, now president of the University of Baltimore. “You could say he was a financial godfather in the minority business community. His style was low-profile, but he was well known in his field.”

Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., he was the son of Ackneil M. Muldrow and his wife, Marjorie, who were both school teachers.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology at North Carolina A&T State University. As a student he participated in civil rights lunchroom protests against segregation at the Woolworth variety store in Greensboro, N.C.

Mr. Muldrow came to Baltimore as a science teacher at Booker T. Washington Junior High School. He taught there from 1961 to 1964 and received a National Science Foundation grant for additional study.

He left teaching to take an internship with the Montgomery Ward department store chain and rose to become a manager.

In 1966 he joined Commercial Credit Corp. He worked in personnel, headed an affirmative action program and went on to become a regional manager for bank relations. He later founded an insurance agency, BMA Insurance. In 1973 he was named a commissioner of the Maryland State Lottery.

In 1983 he was selected to run the nonprofit Development Credit Fund, which was established by the Greater Baltimore Committee. The fund was created with $7.5 million from six Maryland banks and was backed by a Maryland General Assembly loan guarantee through the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the fund Mr. Muldrow headed was the state's first joint public-private financing entity. Through it, he helped businesspeople gain access to capital.

He served as its president and chief executive. He oversaw an operation that lent nearly $40 million for working capital, equipment and machinery. He worked with a staff at an office at Eutaw Place, and in the late 1980s his fund was lending amounts that ranged from $6,600 to $750,000.

In a 2004 article in The Sun, Mr. Muldrow said the idea for the fund grew out of the Greater Baltimore Committee after Parks Sausage’s founder, Henry Parks, began to talk with the committee and others about a growing market of African-Americans in the business community — and the need for an entrepreneurial class to serve that market.

“Mr. Parks saw that you needed to have a strong business group within any ethnic group, and he wanted to see more African-Americans like him in” business, Mr. Muldrow said. He also noted that after some supermarkets fled Baltimore in the 1970s, two businessmen, Charles T. Burns and Henry T. Baines, created the Super Pride and the Stop, Shop & Save markets to serve Baltimore city grocery buyers.

The fund closed in 2004 when it had fulfilled its mission, and commercial banks had stepped up their lending in the minority community.

“We did a little more hand-holding with our clients, to get them through good times and bad times,” he said in the 2004 article. “That was one of the signature suits of the Development Credit Fund. We called it aftercare. Technical assistance directly to a borrower is still needed from lenders.”

After leaving the development fund, he became a business consultant and worked from an office at Charles and 26th streets.

“He just enjoyed serving and serving young professionals,” said his wife, Ruth Parker, a retired AT&T marketing manager. “He really was a workaholic. His work was his life.”

In other activities, Mr. Muldrow served as a chairman and member of the board at Bon Secours Baltimore Health System.

“He was a champion for health care for the underserved,” said Dr. Samuel L. Ross, chief executive officer of Bon Secours.

“He shared the knowledge from the roles he had played in life. He was an outstanding board chair for the hospital and one of our biggest marketers,” said Dr. Ross. “He was truly a gentleman and scholar.”

Mr. Muldrow also served on other boards, including the University of Maryland’s Chancellor’s Advisory Board, the University of Maryland Medical System, James Lawrence Kernan Hospital, Stevenson University, Coppin State University and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the March Life Tribute Center, 5616 Old Court Road in Randallstown.

Beside his wife of 44 years, survivors include a son, Ackneil M. Muldrow III of New York City; a stepdaughter, Denise McCray Scott of Ellicott City; and three grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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