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Grace W. Beehler, economist, dies

Grace Beehler was the third employee hired at T. Rowe Price.
Grace Beehler was the third employee hired at T. Rowe Price. (HANDOUT)

Grace W. Beehler, an economist whose career spanned more than four decades, died July 17 from acute respiratory distress at Stella Maris Hospice. The Mercy Ridge resident was 100.

Grace Welch Beehler, daughter of William Henry Beehler, owner of the Beehler Umbrella Factory, and his wife, Grace Margaret Welch Beehler, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and spent her early years on Maple Avenue in Ruxton before moving with her family to a home on Warrenton Road in Guilford.

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After graduating in 1939 from the Bryn Mawr School, Miss Beehler earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1943 from Smith College.

In those days, finding a job as an economist was especially difficult for a woman. She was fortunate that one of her father’s personal friends was Thomas Rowe Price Jr., who had founded T. Rowe Price, the investment management firm, in 1937.

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“Mr. Price, impressed both with her serious bearing and the fact that, rare among women, she held a degree in economics and wanted to work in finance, immediately hired her for his fledgling research division,” her niece, Cita Stelzer, an author, wrote in a biographical profile of Miss Beehler. “She was only his third employee.”

In an interview with the Bryn Mawr School, Miss Beehler said that Mr. Price, which was always how she referred to him, was “very serious. He wasn’t interested in chit-chatting about social affairs. He just wanted to hire good workers.”

After spending three decades in research, she moved to the financial division, where she “was the only woman not employed as a secretary or assistant,” wrote Ms. Stelzer, a Scottsdale, Arizona, resident.

Miss Beehler eventually headed the analytics section of the bond division and its entire data team.

“Her incredible attention to detail made her a natural fit for the job and elevated her reputation with the senior management,” her niece wrote.

After Miss Beehler retired in 1985, she continued managing her own investments until a few years ago, when she moved from Guilford to Mercy Ridge in Timonium.

She was a member of the Baltimore Country Club, where she enjoyed playing golf and bridge.

She enjoyed traveling by steamship, and one of her favorite ships was the Cunard line’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Miss Beehler was a communicant of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, where because of the pandemic, a memorial Mass will offered in the spring of 2021.

In addition to her niece, she is survived by three nephews, William Rhodes Beehler of Baltimore, Bruce McPherson Beehler of Bethesda and Stephen Stuntz of Acton, Massachusetts.

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