John H. 'Howdy' Eager III, retired bank official who enjoyed restoring cars, airplanes and houses, dies

John Howard Eager III
John Howard Eager III (Handout / Baltimore Sun)

John H. "Howdy" Eager III, a retired Maryland National Bank official whose pastimes included restoring vintage automobiles, airplanes and an 18th-century house, died Sunday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Homestead, his Glen Arm home. He was 86.

"Howdy always had a smile on his face, an encouraging word and a funny story," said Talbot J. "Tolly" Albert, a Baltimore stockbroker who was a member of a group called the Wednesday Club with Mr. Eager.


"Whatever topic you brought up, he'd have something interesting to add to it," said Mr. Albert.

The son of Auville Eager, a banker, and Clara Murray Eager, a homemaker, John Howard Eager III was born in Baltimore and raised on Charlesmeade Road in North Baltimore.


He attended the Gilman School and graduated from the Kent School in Kent, Conn. in 1946. He later attended the Johns Hopkins University.

In 1949, he began his business career as a clerk for Riggs, Warfield and Roloson Inc., a Baltimore insurance brokerage, and the following year joined Warfield-Dorsey, also an insurance brokerage, in sales and underwriting.

From 1953 to 1956, he was manager of industrial sales for the Hedwin Corp., a Baltimore plastics manufacturer. He then left to work in new business development and serve as assistant to the president of the old Maryland Trust Co.

He was assistant cashier from 1960 to 1961 at Baltimore National Bank, successor to the Maryland Trust Co. When the old Maryland National Bank acquired Baltimore National, Mr. Eager was named vice president and cashier, positions he retained until his retirement in 1987.

Additionally, he served as vice president and secretary, and later senior vice president and secretary of Maryland National Corp., the parent of Maryland National Bank, from 1965 to 1987.

Mr. Eager's corporate officer or directorship positions included Manab Properties Inc., Ten Light Street Corp. and Maryland National Foundation Inc., where he was a founding director, vice president and secretary.

Other board memberships included Mann and Parker Lumber Co. and Chesapeake Amphibious Aircraft Corp.

Civic interests included serving on the board of the Baltimore Junior Association of Commerce and the Maryland Council for Educational Television, where he had also been treasurer.

He was a founding director of the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, a director of the Flag House, and a member of the board and secretary of the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children. He was also a member of the boards of Sheppard Pratt Hospital and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Over the years, he owned and restored vintage automobiles, including a blue 1910 Overland touring car, a 1936 four-door deep blue Ford Phaeton and a black 1956 Ford Thunderbird.

"Every Sunday, we'd take friends out for lunch in the Overland," said his wife of 34 years, the former Nina Earle Miller, a retired Maryland National Bank branch officer.

He was a member of the Antique Automobile Club of America.


Mr. Eager also earned a pilot's license and had been a dealer for Lake Aircraft, manufacturers of amphibious aircraft, and also built or refurbished small airplanes for resale. His personal airplane was a Beechcraft, his wife said. He was a past member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Seaplane Pilots Association.

Mr. Eager amassed a large collection of antique model railroad equipment and installed an extensive model rail layout in a room in his three-car garage. He was a past member of the Train Collectors Association of America.

Shortly before he and his wife married, they purchased seven acres and a Glen Arm farmhouse that dated to 1746. The outbuildings included an octagonal barn, and smoke and ice houses.

"Howdy was a jack-of-all-trades and the first thing we did was install a new kitchen and a room we call the winter parlor. We know how to paint and Howdy installed 35 new window sills," said Mrs. Eager. "We had to have new columns installed, which gives the house a 'Gone with the Wind' appearance, and we painted them. We also had the porch floor replaced with mahogany."

Mrs. Eager said the restoration was "wonderful when done."

"He was an interesting conversationalist and outgoing and loquacious," said Dr. J. Kevin Lynch, a Harford County internist and longtime friend who was also Mr. Eager's physician. "He was a very kind and caring person."

Mr. Eager enjoyed sailing and racing small boats at Chester, Nova Scotia, where he was a member of the Chester Yacht Club. He was also a past member of the Maryland Club and the Bachelors Cotillon.

Mr. Eager donated his body to the Maryland Anatomy Board. At his request, no services will be held.

"He wanted a party, and we'll do that at Christmas for family and friends," said Mrs. Eager.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Elizabeth Eager Cross of Needham, Mass.; a sister, June Finney of Towson; and seven grandchildren. His son, John Howard Eager IV died in 2010. An earlier marriage to the former Elizabeth Hartley ended in divorce.

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