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H. Grant Hathaway, former chairman and CEO of Equitable, dies

Harold Grant Hathaway
Harold Grant Hathaway(HANDOUT / HANDOUT)

H. Grant Hathaway, former chairman and chief executive officer of the old Equitable Trust Co., who helped build Equitable Bancorporation into one of the state's most successful banks, died Saturday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his longtime Ruxton home.

He was 89.

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"One of Grant's passions was, to use his expression, 'putting back into the community,' integrating the bank into the community," said William F. Amelia, who was vice president of public relations at Equitable for 13 years.

"When I was doing PR at the bank, everyone loved Grant He was the kind of executive who kept things going, and he was superb at reaching out to people and he knew so many people. It was a great loss when he left the bank," Mr. Amelia said.

Harold Grant Hathaway — he never used his first name — was born to Harold G. Hathaway, an attorney, and Louise Phillips, a homemaker, in New York City.

After his parents' deaths when he was 12, he was raised in Baltimore by his maternal grandmother, Janie Hicks Phillips. He was a graduate of St. James School in Hagerstown, attended the Johns Hopkins University, and served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 as an ensign.

When Mr. Hathaway returned to Baltimore, he began his banking career with the Savings Bank of Baltimore.

Before joining Equitable Trust Co. in 1955 in its correspondent banking department, which he later directed, he worked from 1951 to 1955 as a sales representative for Maryland Hospital Services - Blue Cross.

Mr. Hathaway was promoted to vice president of Equitable in 1963 and two years later joined the bank's mortgage department, which he greatly expanded. As ranking officer in the department, he was elected senior vice president in 1969.

Two years later, he was elected executive vice president and named a director of Equitable Bancorporation. He was named a director of Equitable Trust Co. in 1972.

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He was appointed president of the bank in 1973, a position he held until 1979, when he was succeeded by J. William Middleton. He was named chief executive officer in 1976, a position he held until 1990.

Mr. Hathaway served as director of Equitable Bancorporation until 1990, and served as its president from 1975 to 1990.

"Grant had a real feel for the people who worked at the bank, and they responded to him," Mr. Amelia said.

Mr. Hathaway led Equitable's growth through the 1980s as it became the state's third-largest banking company. That led to a takeover bid in 1989 from MNC Financial, and Mr. Hathaway became vice chairman of MNC and chairman of Maryland National Bank from 1990 to 1993.

"He's as important as anybody in returning this company to its present shape," Alfred Lerner, MNC chairman, told The Baltimore Sun in 1992 at the time of Mr. Hathaway's retirement. "He was the glue that held this company together when we were slugging it out."

Frank P. Bramble Sr., who was president and CEO of MNC, told the newspaper at the time that Mr. Hathaway personified "calmness under stress."

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"He is very able to remain calm and objective during high-stress situations," he said.

"The last 21/2 years have been anything but boring," Mr. Hathaway told The Sun at the time. "I would probably look forward to a little boredom for a while."

"Grant became chairman and CEO of Equitable Bank during some very challenging times, when the ownership of the bank had changed hands," said Barbara Lucas, who was a vice president and the bank's corporate secretary.

"He managed the transition successfully because, in addition to being a good banker, he was self-effacing, accessible, had a special talent for managing relationships, and had a wonderfully sharp, dry wit," Ms. Lucas said.

She said that Mr. Hathaway worked at advancing the professional role of women at the bank and "elsewhere in the Baltimore community."

Mr. Hathaway's community and civic involvement was wide-ranging.

He was appointed to the Maryland Stadium Authority in 1972 along with Edmund F. Rovner, William Boucher 3rd, Walter Sondheim Jr. and Robert C. Embry by Gov. Marvin Mandel. The authority was charged with financing and overseeing a new stadium to be built at Camden Yards.

In 1992, Mr. Hathaway was named chairman of Baltimore County's Economic Development Commission by then-County Executive Roger B. Hayden, a position he held until 1994, when he resigned.

Mr. Hathaway was a director of NationsBank N.A. from 1993 to 1995, and served as chairman of the board of Garrison Forest School, of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and of the Community Development Finance Corp.

He was a past president of the Maryland Bankers Association and a former member of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He led the region's United Way campaigns for many years, and was chairman of the board of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Some of his other board memberships included the Baltimore branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, Reserve City Bankers, Chicago Title Co., Baltimore Museum of Art, Notre Dame of Maryland University and the University of Maryland Medical System.

Mr. Hathaway attended annual reunions of former Equitable employees and was always touched by the "warmth and affection" that was extended to him, Ms. Lucas said.

He enjoyed traveling, tennis and golf, and was a member of the Elkridge Club.

"For the last 20 years, he enjoyed spending time with his family and grandchildren," said his wife of 53 years, the former Mary Elizabeth "Molly" Mundy.

Mr. Hathaway was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles, St., where funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Harold "Hal" Hathaway of Cross Keys and Timothy Hathaway of the Woodbrook neighborhood of Baltimore County; four daughters, Katherine Murray and Diana Ingraham, both of Cockeysville, Liza Matthews of Woodbrook and Kate Bagli of Stoneleigh; 13 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage to the former Deborah Boyd ended in divorce.

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