Charles Counselman was an executive at Riggs, Counselman, Michaels and Downes.
Charles Counselman was an executive at Riggs, Counselman, Michaels and Downes. (HANDOUT)

Charles Claude "Charlie" Counselman Jr., who led Riggs, Counselman, Michaels and Downes to become one of the largest independent risk management and insurance agent and broker firms in the mid-Atlantic region, died of complications from Parkinson's disease on April 21.

Mr. Counselman died at Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson, where he had lived since 2008 with his wife, Catherine. He was 99.


Albert "Skip" Counselman, a son, said his father had wanted the insurance company to have a nationwide reach since the 1950s, when few companies operated nationally and the primary mode of transit between major cities was trains.

"In the '50s people didn't think like that because most business was done locally," said Skip Counselman, of Cockeysville. "People could make a good living with a local business, but that wasn't going to be the future."

Mr. Counselman was born in Baltimore to Charles and Barbara Counselman. He graduated from Mount Saint Joseph High School in 1934 and from The Johns Hopkins University in 1938. He married Catherine Roloson in 1941 and served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Army Air Corps. He was stationed in Washington, Boca Raton, Fla., and Denver, Colo.

Mr. Counselman worked first as a gas chemical engineer for Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., and as a chemical engineer at the Division of Royal Insurance Co. in New York City. In 1947, he joined Riggs, Warfield, Roloson, an insurance company in Baltimore that in 1969 became Riggs, Counselman, Michaels and Downes.

In 1970, he became chairman, president and CEO, growing the company to operate internationally. He retired in late 1984 at age 68.

Mr. Counselman and his wife enjoyed travel, circumnavigating the globe in 1985 on a cruise and vacationing in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. He was an avid golfer and served as president of the Roland Park Civic League and as founding president of the Roland Park swimming pool.

His son said he was outgoing and friendly. "If there was someone in a room who didn't know anybody, he would seek them out," Skip Counselman said.

In addition to his son and wife, Mr. Counselman is survived by a son, Charles Counselman of Belmont, Mass.; two daughters, Susan Healy of Richmond, Va. and Cathy Kelly of Sewickley, Penn.; 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held Monday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Ruck Towson Funeral Home at 1050 York Road in Towson. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen at 5200 N. Charles St.