Bernard Dixon Evander, a retired medical malpractice insurance executive, died Tuesday of myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of blood cancer, at his Hunt Valley home. He was 87.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Mount Washington and Guilford, he was the son of Eric Bernard Evander, a Swedish-born architect, and Elizabeth Mae Dixon, a pianist and floral designer. He attended St. Paul's School and graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pa. He took science and pre-medical courses at the Johns Hopkins University. During the Korean War he served in the Army Medical Corps in Japan.
After his military service Mr. Evander entered the insurance field and trained at the St. Paul's Insurance Cos. in St. Paul, Minn. He initially sold life insurance and property and casualty policies. He entered the emerging area of medical malpractice insurance on the advice of an uncle, Dr. Darius McClelland Dixon, a Maryland General Hospital obstetrician and gynecologist.
He recalled that in his early days, the premium for a nonsurgical policy was $50 and a surgical policy was $100. He visited physicians throughout the state to build his business.
"He saw an opportunity that nobody was pursuing, " said his son, Scott D. Evander of Timonium. "He had developed his business relationships over the years. He put his clients' needs first."
In 1962 Mr. Evander founded his own insurance agency, B. Dixon Evander and Associates, Inc. He opened an office in the 2300 block of N. Charles St. in what had been his father's architectural practice. The agency he founded remains there.
"He was generous and he was trusting," said his son, who followed his father in the insurance firm, "He was meticulous with details. He said you always had to have your hair in place, your fingernails clipped and your shoes shined. When writing a basic letter, he checked it and tweaked it constantly."
He became an insurance procurer for the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland and represented the University of Maryland Medical Center and its staff for many years.
Mr. Evander appeared before General Assembly committees to win passage of a statute of limitations for filing a malpractice claim.
Mr. Evander retired in 1998 when he turned his business over to his son.
"We started out as neighbors and became each other's best friends," said Dr. George Vranian, also of Hunt Valley. "There is an age difference between us, and I grew to see him as a father figure. Dixon gave me great advice. We are both avid readers and we would swap books on history back and forth."
Dr. Vranian recalled that Mr. Evander kept his lawn perfectly groomed and would share suggestions on lawn upkeep.
Mr. Evander enjoyed painting seascapes, landscapes and portraits in oils. He kept a garden and created an Asian-inspired shade area where he placed a bonsai collection. He also installed a flat seat, which he called his pouting bench, where he would go to relieve the pressures of work.
"He was the kind of person who let things percolate," his son Scott said.
He kept boats in Middle River and enjoyed sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. He also traveled the Intracoastal Waterway to fish at Cape Hatteras and the Oregon Inlet. In previous years he sailed off Ocean City in the Baltimore Canyon.
Friends recalled that Mr. Evander had a playful sense of humor and gave nicknames to family, friends and business associates. He was also recalled as a prankster. Despite writing well-drafted and -typed letters, he would include unexplained items such as rubber band, paper clips a toothpick or stick of gum. He greeted employees with a birthday greeting written in soap on a mirror.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 19 at St. John's Episcopal Church, Western Run Parish, 3738 Butler Road in Reisterstown.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 30 years, Edith Estelle "Muffin" Wood Evander, owner of Cultivated Designs; a daughter, Courtney Evander of Baltimore; a sister, Betty E. Pierson of Rodgers Forge; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His first wife of nearly 30 years, Janet Rice Evander, died in 1984. A daughter, Lillian Elizabeth Evander, died in 2009.