Charles C. Baum, of Severna Park, was president of United Holdings and an adviser to professional athletes, charities and arts organizations.
Charles C. Baum, of Severna Park, was president of United Holdings and an adviser to professional athletes, charities and arts organizations. (Handout / Baltimore Sun)

Charles C. Baum, president of United Holdings and an adviser to professional athletes, charities and arts organizations, died of pancreatic cancer Oct. 24 at his Severna Park home. He was 73.

Born in Montgomery, Ala., he was the son of Max Baum, who had interests in banking and insurance, and Josephine Baum, a homemaker.


Charles C. Baum earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he was named to Phi Beta Kappa. He then received a master's degree at the Harvard University School of Business. He was a 1979 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.

He initially worked in finance at Loeb, Rhoades & Co. on Wall Street. He moved to Baltimore in 1973 with his first wife, Jane Shapiro Rodbell, and joined her family's business, United Iron & Metal in Southwest Baltimore. He worked alongside his father-in-law, I.D. Shapiro, who died in 2004. Mr. Baum continued to run the business, now known as United Holdings.

"He was an attentive and loving father who was supportive of me, my sisters and later my stepsisters," said his son, Matthew Baum of Baltimore. "He was great adviser. He told me to do in life what was best for me."

He became an advocate for Willie Mays Aikens, the former Kansas City Royals first baseman who had received a 20-year prison sentence for selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer.

"Charles and I went down to visit Willie at the Atlanta federal penitentiary," said his wife, Patricia Purnell. "Willie was released at year 15."

"Charles was the most brilliant investment management guy I knew, He combined that brilliance with his own kindness," said Ronald Shapiro, a Baltimore attorney and friend. "He was an effective communicator and a builder of confidence. Charles made a real difference in his sports clients' lives. While other players were losing their earnings, his people were saving them."

"He had a skill," said Mr. Shapiro "He could go into a meeting that was tense, and he would say something that was witty and self-deprecating."

"He was very smart and was generous of spirit. He was unusually witty and loved to take any position in an argument just to create fun," said another friend, Mark K. Joseph, former president of the Baltimore school board who is founding chair of the Shelter Group.

Mr. Baum joined numerous philanthropic and arts boards. He served on the boards of Center Stage, the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation and the University of Maryland Foundation. He was president of Associated Jewish Charities at his death.

"He had a high, emotional sense of compassion," said Marc Terrill, president of the The Associated" Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. "And in terms of investment, the man knew what he was doing. He led us through the recession of 2008. He was a resolute leader."

Mr. Baum was a longtime member of Beth Am Synagogue.

Mr. Baum supported Sen. Bill Bradley's presidential campaign and served as a delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention. He enjoyed playing basketball, tennis and golf. He was an ardent Orioles and Alabama Crimson Tide fan.

He enjoyed reading several newspapers daily and writing letters to their editors.


In 1996, he wrote to The Baltimore Sun about the departure of Oriole announcer Jon Miller. "Until Jon Miller's exit, I defended Peter Angelos' moves. But allowing Miller to go is a Baltimore tragedy that ranks with the exit of the Colts."

In 2003, in a letter in The New York Times, he addressed Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: "Boss, you are, of course, correct: Derek Jeter is a pampered playboy. Trade him immediately. Preferably to the Orioles."

"He had one of the most infectious and generous spirits I have known," said Greg Jordan, a writer and friend who lives in Sherwood. "If you wanted to be happier and feel better about yourself and life, you tried to get close to Charles Baum."

He also served on corporate boards, including MMA Capital Management, the investment advisory firm Gabelli Group Capital Partners and the telecommunications company ICTC. He was a chairman of the Morgan Group Inc. and was a special adviser to Baltimore's Charm City Run.

A private memorial service for family and friends is being planned for Sunday.

Survivors, in addition to his son and his wife of 17 years, a financial adviser at RBC Wealth Management, included daughter Katie Baum of Berkeley, Calif.; two stepdaughters, Staci Hodge of Baltimore and Beth Bafford of Washington, D.C.; a brother, John Baum of Baltimore; a sister, Sylvia Horowitz of Columbia; and four grandchildren. His marriage to Jane Shapiro ended in divorce. Another son, Andrew Baum died in 1971.