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Raleigh 'Rollo' Brent, a retired insurance company executive who was known as 'Mr. Boys' Latin School,' dies

Raleigh 'Rollo' Brent, a retired insurance company executive who was known as 'Mr. Boys' Latin School,' dies
Baltimore's Boys' Latin School was the focus of Raleigh Brent's philanthropic work. (Handout)

Raleigh “Rollo” Brent, a retired insurance company executive who was a partner in the firm of Maury Donnelly & Parr Inc. and was known as “Mr. Boys’ Latin School,” died May 21 from heart failure at his Blakehurst Retirement Community home in Towson.

He was 93.

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“I admired him as a lacrosse player and as a guy over the years,” said Bill Tanton, former Evening Sun sports editor and columnist, who lives in the city’s Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood.

”He was a huge lacrosse star at Boys’ Latin when I was in the ninth grade at St. Paul’s. Boys’ Latin always had some of the best players in town, but Raleigh was the star,” Mr. Tanton recalled.

Raleigh Brent, who had no middle name, was the son of Dr. Hugh W. Brent, an obstetrician, and his wife, Helen Von Roden Vogeler Brent, a homemaker.

He was born in Baltimore and raised in Mount Vernon and spent summers at the family farm, Weymouth, in Baltimore County.

After his father died when he was 7 years old in 1933, his mother married Gallatin Love, who helped raise Mr. Brent.

He was a graduate of Calvert School and in 1934 entered Boys’ Latin School, which would remain a recurring theme in his life.

With his imposing 6-foot-6 frame, Mr. Brent became an accomplished varsity football, basketball and lacrosse player. He was the leading rebounder on the 1944 basketball team that won the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference and Interstate Academic Conference titles.

Mr. Brent was one of the leaders of the lacrosse team, earning three letters and being named to the All-Maryland first team in 1944. He was the leading scorer on the 1943 and 1944 teams, and overall won seven varsity letters.

“We’d all go over to watch Boys’ Latin play or they would play us at our field on West Rogers Avenue in Mount Washington,” Mr. Tanton recalled. “Raleigh was the star and scored lots of goals. He was a crease attackman and because he was so tall, he could feed the ball high and shoot it into the goal.”

Mr. Tanton described his longtime friend as “outgoing and very friendly.”

Mr. Brent graduated third in the Boys’ Latin Class of 1944 with a near 90 average. In addition to being class treasurer, he was chairman of the Senior Council his senior year.

In 1944, Mr. Brent received the J. Elwood Peter ’34 Memorial Cup — voted on by his classmates for the “one who loves his fellow man.”

After graduating from Boys’ Latin, he entered Cornell University, where he again played three sports and earned All-America honors in lacrosse as a sophomore and in 1946 received All-America honorable mention.

In 1946, circumstances required him to return to Baltimore, and he enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University, where he was a member of the 1947 national championship team.

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After Hopkins, he went to work for the Second National Bank of Maryland and later joined the staff of Tongue Brooks & Co., where he sold property and casualty insurance for many years.

He was 70 when he decided to return to work in 1996 when he became a partner in Maury Donnelly & Parr Inc., a Baltimore insurance brokerage that had been established in 1875. He remained with the company until retiring for a second time in 2008.

Playing lacrosse was never far from Mr. Brent’s mind and after college, he joined the Mount Washington Lacrosse Club, for which he played until 1963, and was given the sobriquet of “The Old Man of the Game” when he stopped playing at 37.

John Steadman, then sports editor of the News American and later a columnist for The Evening Sun and The Sun, wrote at the time, “Has there ever been a harder shot in the game of lacrosse than that of Rollo Brent?”

While Mr. Brent had served as president of the Florence Crittendon Home and served as treasurer of the Maryland School for the Blind for more than 30 years, it was Boys’ Latin that became the focus of his philanthropic work.

He was a member of the school’s board of trustees for nearly four decades and served as its president from 1992 to 1994.

Dyson Ehrhardt, who graduated from Boys’ Latin in 1959 and returned to the school in 1962 as a coach and a teacher, left in 1967 to start the True Blue Laundry.

“Rollo dropped by one evening and asked me to head the alumni association and go on the BL board. I was trying to start a new business but said OK,” he said. “It was Rollo who got me to come back to BL in 1969 and I ditched the True Blue Laundry Co.”

Subsequently, Mr. Ehrhardt became director of admissions and associate headmaster of development.

“I could call Rollo for anything whether it was about a capital campaign or the annual bull roast. When I’d call, he’d say, ‘Wrong number,’ ” Mr. Ehrhadt said, laughing. “I’d say, ‘I need a favor,’ and it would be done.”

Mr. Brent became a beloved figure at the West Lake Avenue school.

In recognition of his long and devoted service to Boys’ Latin, Mr. Brent was presented its John S.B. Hodges Cup in 1985, was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1994, and was elected into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.

In 2016, the Raleigh Brent ’44 Award was established. It is awarded each year to a member of the school’s community and not an alumnus.

In 1951, he married the former Mary Gillian “Jill” Mock, and the couple lived for years in a home on Edgevale Road in Roland Park where they raised their four children.

After his wife’s death in 2000, Mr. Brent moved to Elkridge Estates, and finally to Blakehurst.

A fan of steeplechase racing in Maryland and Virginia, for many years Mr. Brent was the official starter at the Maryland Hunt Cup.

He liked playing tennis, sailing, fishing and working in his vegetable garden, and vacationing in Cape May, N.J. and Squam Lake, N.H. He also spent time at Bellhaven Farm, a Baltimore County farm he owned.

Mr. Brent was a collector of classic vintage automobiles and enjoyed driving his black 1941 four-door Lincoln Continental that remains in his family.

“Rollo had the good fortune to enjoy an encyclopedic knowledge of the world of nature and his memory for minute details was a gift for us all,” said a sister-in-law, Margaret “Peggy” Obrecht of Roland Park.

A celebration of life gathering for Mr. Brent will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 12 at the Boys’ Latin School Alumni House, 822 W. Lake Ave., Roland Park.

He is survived by two sons, Raleigh Brent III of Ruxton and Geoffrey H, Brent of Glyndon; two daughters, Melanie G. Brent of Ruxton and Margaret G. Brent of Roland Park; his loving companion of 15 years, Shirley Cobb of Roland Park; nine grandchildren; and a great grandson.

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