H. Lee Boatwright III, the former president and chair of the old Central Savings Bank, died of heart failure Aug. 28 at his home in Charleston, S.C. The former Riderwood resident was 85.
Born in Washington, D.C., he was the son of Herbert Lee Boatwright Jr., a lawyer with the Maryland Casualty Co., and his wife, Suzanne Pollard Boatwright, the daughter of Virginia Gov. John Garland Pollard.
He was a graduate of Woodberry Forest School and Phillips Exeter Academy and earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia. He served in the Navy aboard a minesweeper assigned to Charleston, S.C. While stationed he met his future wife, Joyce “Mitzi” Harley Jordan.
“She was dancing with someone else and he broke in and said, ‘May I have this dance?’ said his son, Lee Pollard Boatwright of Baltimore. “He loved to dance and after they married, they danced all the time.”
He received a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School and wrote a thesis on the economics of oyster farming based upon his experience at a family farm on the Rappahannock River.
He joined the Wachovia Bank and advanced through its offices in Winston-Salem and Wilmington, N.C. In 1966 he was named a vice president and loan officer at Baltimore’s Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co.
“Lee was a man of absolute candor and was straight as a die,” said H. Furlong Baldwin, the former president of Mercantile Bankshares.
In 1969 he was named a vice president of the Baltimore branch of the Federal Reserve Bank and in 1974 moved to Suburban Trust Co.
His final career move came in 1981 when he became president and chair of the old Central Savings Bank at Charles and Lexington streets in downtown Baltimore. According to a 1982 news story in The Sun, Mr. Boatwright embarked on an expansion program for his institution, which was founded in 1854 as a dime savings bank. He said, “Central is trying some non-traditional approaches to ensure we will be here in 2054.” The article said that under Mr. Boatwright’s direction, the bank “was trying to shake the stodgy image it has acquired over the last 128 years.”
Mr. Boatwright changed lending policies, introduced more computers and made large safe deposit boxes available for customers who wanted to store their valuable paintings or gun collections.
His bank was later acquired by the North Carolina National Bank, now Bank of America, and he was named president, NCNB Maryland, a position he held until he retired nearly 20 years ago.
“As a banker, my father was good with people, and he was good with figures,” said his son. “He was honest, forthright and would tell you how it was. People relied on his word.”
His son said his father, whose office was on Charles Street, regularly had lunch at the Woman’s Industrial Exchange, where he joined friends at its basement counter. He was also a patron of the old Marconi’s restaurant.
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Mr. Boatwright was a past chair of the boards of the Maryland Economic Development Corp., Woodberry Forest School, Roland Park Country School and the Bishop Gadsden Charitable Mission Committee in Charleston. He was also a member of the boards of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Union Memorial Hospital, Kaiser-Permanente Mid-Atlantic, Chicago Title Insurance Co. Maryland, United Way of Central Maryland, American Red Cross of Baltimore, the Maryland Banking Commission and the National Association of Mutual Savings Banks.
In 1973, as board president of Goodwill Industries, he led a campaign to air-condition its headquarters building on Southwestern Boulevard.
He was also a member of the Bishop Gadsden Community in Charleston, where he moved a decade ago, and served on its activities, administration and finance, and health and wellness committees. He was also a past Residents’ Council president.
He was a past member of the Maryland and Elkridge clubs and played tennis, golf and bridge.
A memorial services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Bishop Gadsden Chapel in Charleston. A second service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 20 at St Mary’s White Chapel in Lancaster, Va.
In addition to his son, survivors include two daughters, Joyce Cole of Baltimore and Mary Mulvey of Charleston, S.C.; two brothers, John G.P. Boatwright of Charleston and Beverly Vaughan Boatwright of Bellingham, Wash.; and six grandchildren. His wife of 59 years died in 2017.