Edward K. “Eddie” Dunn Jr., Baltimore investment banker whose philanthropic work was honed by his Catholic faith, dies

Edward K. “Eddie” Dunn Jr., former president and chief operating officer of Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co. whose philanthropic efforts were shaped by a deep and abiding Catholic faith, died March 31 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at his home in the Woodbrook neighborhood of Baltimore County. He was 86.

“Eddie Dunn was a man of great faith who walked the walk,” said Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a longtime friend of Mr. Dunn.


“He came from privilege, knew privilege, and he used his privilege to give back,” Dr. Hrabowski said. “He was such a poised gentleman in the best sense of the word in every setting. He had great hope for humanity and that the world could be better, and whenever I left him, I felt elevated, because he said, ‘I believe in you.’”

Edward Klein Dunn Jr., son of Edward K. Dunn Sr., an investment banker and former senior partner of Robert Garrett & Sons and later a limited partner of Alex. Brown & Sons, and Anne Butler Dunn, a volunteer, was born in Baltimore and raised in Woodbrook.


Mr. Dunn’s maternal grandfather was Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler who was nominated to the court in 1922 by President Warren G. Harding.

After graduating from Gilman School in 1953, Mr. Dunn earned a bachelor’s degree in 1958 and then a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

Mr. Dunn, who was a chartered financial analyst, began his 40-year investment banking career in 1960 when he joined Robert Garrett & Sons, where he “became widely known for his analyses of bank stocks, efforts that have earned Garrett a reputation as a specialist in this field,” reported The Baltimore Sun in 1973.

He rose to become executive vice president of the firm and in 1973 was named president and CEO of Garrett, succeeding S. Page Nelson Jr.

In 1974 Mr. Dunn played a role in negotiating the merger of Garrett into Alex. Brown & Sons, said a son, Edward K. Dunn III of Woodbrook, who is a strategic adviser at Brown Advisory in Baltimore.

From 1974 to 1988, Mr. Dunn was a general partner and managing director at Alex. Brown. He then joined Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co. as president and COO, and later assumed the presidency of Mercantile Bankshares Corp.

He resigned from that position in 1997, and stayed another year as chairman of Mercantile Mortgage Corp., a unit of the company, until retiring.

“Eddie was an extraordinary investment banker, a great human being, and had tons of character,” said Truman T. Seamans, former chairman of the board at Garrett, who later joined Mr. Dunn at Alex. Brown & Sons. “He did mergers and acquisitions all over the country and was a leader in the firm. I always said he punched way above his weight.”


Mr. Dunn’s board memberships were numerous and ranged from business to education, medical to religious, to cultural institutions.

From 1988 to 1997, he was on the board of Mercantile Bankshares and Mercantile Safe-Deposit & Trust Co., and from 1969 to 1976, of Colonial Stores, an Atlanta-based grocery store chain that was later acquired by Grand Union.

“When I was on the Mercantile and Baltimore Equitable boards Eddie made me feel welcome, and said, ‘You need to be here,’” Dr. Hrabowksi said. “And I always enjoyed learning about his family and listening to his stories about Baltimore.”

Mr. Dunn had also been vice chairman and later president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and vice chairman of Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was a trustee of the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Hospital Endowment Fund.

Mr. Dunn was also a trustee, vice president, treasurer and chairman of the finance committee of the Robert Garrett Fund for the Surgical Treatment of Children, a trustee of the Thomas Wilson Sanitarium, and a member of the investment committee of Family & Children’s Services of Central Maryland.

He had been a trustee and member of the financial advisory board of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, chaired its development committee and was CFO and a member of its search committee. He was also chairman of the development committee of Associated Catholic Charities.


He was a longtime communicant of St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, where he had been a trustee and chaired its development committee and was a member of the church’s Historic Trust Fund.

For his work with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Mr. Dunn received the papal Knight of St. Gregory award from Pope John Paul II.

“I’m not a professional Catholic,” he told The Catholic Review in a 1998 interview. “Many others have done much more than I. To me the award shows that the church can honor sinners as well as saints. I think I got it because of the great company I keep.”

Mr. Dunn had been on the board of advisers of Partners for Excellence, which awards parochial school scholarships to city children, and was a trustee of the Marion Burk Knott Scholarship Fund. He also had been a trustee of Gilman School, Garrison Forest School and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

“When you see a great institution doing better because of something you’ve contributed, it’s just a great joy,” Mr. Dunn told a Catholic Review reporter.

“My father gave of his time to the community activities,” he said. “but soon after I was out of college, some friends asked me to get involved. They said it was to pay back time for many good things that I had received. It seemed worthwhile so I decided to participate. I stayed on because of the joy it gave me to be involved.”


One day, he asked Henry Knott Sr., the legendary Baltimore philanthropist and construction tycoon, why he gave his money away.

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“He said, ‘I do it because it gives me pleasure.’ It does the same thing for me,” Mr. Dunn told The Catholic Review.

He added: “Baltimore is the largest small town in America. Here you can see the benefits when you take action in the nonprofit sector. You can just follow the ripples ... So much of what we do in life does not have lasting value but in the nonprofit sector it does. It can have enormous strategic value, too.”

An outdoorsman, Mr. Dunn was an avid hunter and gardener, and enjoyed spending time at his Howard County farm, Waterford, in the village of Daisy, between West Friendship and Lisbon. It had been in his family for generations.

He was also an inveterate fisherman who enjoyed spending time at his summer home on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, where he especially liked taking family and friends out on his boat and hunting for bluefish in the late summer and early autumn off Great Point Lighthouse or the Siasconset Rips.

Mr. Dunn was a member of the Maryland Club, Elkridge Club and the Nantucket Yacht Club.


A memorial Mass will be offered at 11:30 a.m. on April 23 at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 120 N. Front St., Baltimore.

In addition to his son, Mr. Dunn is survived by his wife of 63 years, the former Janet Evans; another son, Peter C. Dunn of Butler; a daughter, Janet Holliday “Holly” Dunn of Roland Park; a brother, Pierce Dunn of Santa Barbara, California; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.