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Robert D.H. Harvey

Robert D.H. Harvey, of Towson, served as chairman and CEO of Maryland National Corp.
Robert D.H. Harvey, of Towson, served as chairman and CEO of Maryland National Corp.(HOTZ, BALTIMORE SUN)

Robert D.H. Harvey, a career Baltimore banker who led the effort that resulted in the founding of the old Maryland National Bank and later served as chairman and CEO of Maryland National Corp., died Saturday of congestive heart failure at his Towson home.

He was 94.

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"Bob was a soft-spoken man but quite a deep thinker, and when I was owner of the Arundel Corp., I was 29 or 30, he helped me become a strategic thinker," said Francis X. Knott, a Baltimore businessman.

"He was an icon in my opinion just like John A. Luetkemeyer Sr. [former Equitable Trust Co. CEO]. These two men had extremely bright minds and were smart like foxes," said Mr. Knott. "He didn't have to pound his fist. He had no need to do that. He could get his point across by simply explaining his point of view, unlike my father, Henry Knott, who would pull off his shoe and pound his desk."

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The son of Frederick Barton Harvey, an insurance executive, and Rose Lindsay Hopkins Harvey, a homemaker, Robert Dixon Hopkins Harvey was born in Baltimore and raised on Brightside Road in Ruxton.

He attended the Gilman School and graduated in 1938 from the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa. He entered Princeton University, where he studied Romance languages and was a 1942 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate.

During his Princeton years, Mr. Harvey developed a reputation as a fierce competitor as a lightweight football, baseball and ice hockey player. He was also a member of the Ivy Club.

After graduation, he was commissioned an Army captain and attended the Chinese Language School at Yale University, where he studied Mandarin. He served in China in guerrilla intelligence with Gen. Chiang Kai-shek's forces from 1943 to 1946, and his decorations include a Bronze Star.

After being discharged from the Army, Mr. Harvey returned to Baltimore and began his banking career in 1947 as a bank runner for the old Maryland Trust Co., rising through a number of positions at the bank.

In 1951, he left the bank and served as assistant to the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a position he held until 1954, when he resigned and returned to the bank.

Mr. Harvey earned a bachelor's degree in 1953 in business from the Johns Hopkins University, and received a degree from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University.

Mr. Harvey was named a vice president in 1954 of the Maryland Trust Co., and four years later, was appointed president of the bank.

When Maryland Trust Co. was consolidated with Fidelity-Baltimore National Bank in 1960, and a year later with Glen Burnie-based County Trust Co., Mr. Harvey was elected vice chairman of the consolidated bank, whose new name emerged as Maryland National Bank, and by the time they closed the books in 1961, the bank was reporting assets of $579 million.

Other banks that were merged into Maryland National Bank included Easton National and Montgomery County National in 1962, Second National of Hagerstown in 1963, Western Maryland Trust in 1968, first National of Havre de Grace in 1971 and Sykesville State bank in 1974.

Mr. Harvey, who had steered the bank through the various mergers, was designated CEO of the bank in 1964. Two years later, he was named chairman and CEO of the Maryland National Bank Corp.

By 1975, Maryland National Bank had become a regional financial powerhouse with 140 offices in 18 of the state's 23 counties.

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"Management experts agree that bringing off successful mergers and combinations require a different talent from what it takes to run the company that results from a merger," observed The Baltimore Sun in a 1985 profile of Mr. Harvey. "In banking circles, Mr. Harvey is known as a man who could do both."

Bankers who knew Mr. Harvey said he "first attracted attention through his shrewd analyses of credit statements and later as a problem-solver in various areas of bank operations," reported The Sun in the profile.

At the time of his retirement in 1985, Mr. Harvey told The Sun that Maryland National was strong enough and large enough to stay independent.

"It may not always remain so, because you can't just close the walls around you," he said. "I'm sure management will look at all the alternatives and do what's best for the stockholders."

At his retirement dinner roast, Mr. Harvey kept returning to the point of what made him so successful.

"He'd say that and then not answer the question, and go on to some other point," said Mr. Knott. "Finally, he said 'Do you want to know why I've had success?' He then pulled a magic wand from behind a curtain with a star on the top. It brought the house down."

"He was known in banking and business circles as smart, strategic, and forward-thinking," said a daughter, Jane W. Harvey of Seattle. "He approached the banking business from a community perspective, mindful of keeping executive salaries reasonable, and creating and maintaining good jobs."

Mr. Harvey brought to his volunteering and board memberships the same energy and financial expertise that he had exhibited as a banker.

He had been on the board of Johns Hopkins starting in 1959, and had served as its chairman from 1969 to 1984.

When the old Baltimore City Hospitals became Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, it was Mr. Harvey who was named the first chair of the hospital, and he remained a trustee until his death. He joined the board and later served as chair of the old Maryland Academy of Sciences, which later became the Maryland Science Center.

Mr. Harvey had served on numerous corporate boards, some of which included Arundel Corp., United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co., Noxell Corp., Read Drug and Chemical Co., and Baltimore Life Insurance Co.

He served on the boards of Christian & Jewish Studies, Maryland Health and Higher Education Authority, Union Memorial Hospital, Calvert School, and the Society of Executive retired volunteers.

Mr. Harvey enjoyed spending summers at Fishers Island, N.Y., which he first visited with his family in the 1920s. He also continued skiing, jogging, golfing, spearfishing, ice skating and playing tennis well into his 80s.

He maintained his interest in Chinese language and culture as well as in American history and foreign policy.

Mr. Harvey was a member of the Maryland Club, Elkridge Club, Hamilton Street Club, Center Club, Fishers Island Country Club and the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda.

He was a longtime communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Harvey is survived by his wife of 62 years, the former Nancy Criswell Gross; a son, R. Dixon H. Harvey Jr. of Sparks; two other daughters, Ellen D. Harvey of Philadelphia and Anne N.C. Harvey of Coupeville, Va.; a brother, U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Harvey II of Baltimore; two sisters, Ellen Harvey Kelly of Ruxton and Jean Harvey Baker of Baltimore; and seven grandchildren.

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