William B. “Blake” Hampson, a former vice president with the First National Bank of Maryland, died of complications from frontotemporal dementia, a debilitative disorder of the brain, Jan. 9 at the Springwell Senior Living retirement community in Mount Washington. The longtime Baldwin resident was 72.
Born in Baltimore, he was the first of two children of William Blake Hampson Jr., and the former Rita Guidera. He was 4 years old when his father died. His mother remarried, and she and her second husband, Edward Zungailia, a salesman, had eight more children and raised the blended family under one roof in their home on Woodbourne Avenue in Northeast Baltimore.
“Growing up I feel like he was just the epitome of the best big brother anybody could ask for,” said Hampson’s younger sister Tricia Hayden, 59, of Towson. “He was very protective and caring because he had so many siblings.”
Poring over old family photos, Ms. Hayden said her brother is often seen holding one of his younger siblings, reading to them or helping to feed them.
Mr. Hampson removed the “III” from his name as an adult.
He attended Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, graduating in 1968, and Loyola College in Maryland, now Loyola University Maryland, earning his degree in 1972.
Mr. Hampson was a regional swimming star in his youth. He excelled in freestyle, butterfly and other events as a member of the competitive teams at the Orchard Swim Club in Northwoods, and he became part of the local history of the sport as a protege of legendary Calvert Hall coach Arthur Francis “Red” Hucht, whose teams won 23 Maryland Scholastic Association championships. He set a range of records at both Calvert Hall and Loyola, helping both schools to titles, and he remained close to former teammates throughout his life, according to Joanne Hampson, his wife of 30 years.
He spent little time dwelling on those achievements, Mrs. Hampson recalled, but when she found and opened a metal storage box in the family home not long ago, she realized it was “full of old medals and athletic letters from Calvert Hall and Loyola.” Mrs. Hampson turned many of them into framed Christmas presents for the couple’s three daughters.
Mr. Hampson, who spent a year in the ROTC program at Loyola, began what would become a successful career in banking shortly after graduating from college, starting out at Mercantile Bank & Trust Company, which would be purchased by PNC Financial Services Corp. in 2006.
After a customer recruited him into a position with an independent company for a time, he returned to his original profession in 1986, joining the First National Bank of Maryland, a precursor to M&T Bank. He worked in community banking groups, eventually joining a specialized group that dealt with companies in the communications industry.
“He was very professional, he was well liked and respected by the people who reported to him,” said Tom Reynolds, a retired banker who worked with Mr. Hampson at First National Bank of Maryland. “He was a good customers man, too. His customers always liked him.”
It was during his time at First National that Mr. Hampson became professionally acquainted with a fellow employee, Joanne Towers, only to get to know her better in the aftermath of a friend’s “matchmaking” efforts. The couple were married in 1991.
He also served on the board of the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for 15 years, where he helped raise money and awareness.
“He was simply a gentleman on every level,” Mrs. Hampson said. “The comments that we’re reading on Facebook, from all the people we’ve known, people he worked with, his customers, my kids’ friends talking about him, are all saying that — he was a gentleman, a kind soul who loved his family.”
Above all else, Mrs. Hampson says, her husband was a believer in Jesus Christ — the family are longtime members of Hunt Valley Church — and a devoted family man. He was one of the 60 grandchildren of his maternal grandmother. His mother was one of nine siblings, and he remained close to his nine brothers and sisters all his life. But his daughters, Erin, Rebecca and Elizabeth, became “his top priority.”
Rebecca Litwack and Elizabeth Hampson, two of Mr. Hampson’s three daughters, described him as “a very gentle and calm person” with a playful, “very goofy” side who dedicated most of his time and energy to his family.
”He was a really good ‘girl dad,’” Ms. Litwack said. “He condoned a lot of loud nonsense. I felt like we were free to be silly and goofy as kids around him because he was also a goofy kid at heart.”
As they sorted through old photographs after his death, Ms. Litwack said, it struck them how “a lot of pictures are of him making a silly face — he didn’t take life too seriously, in the best way.”
The two daughters recalled his enthusiasm for meteor showers, waking the family predawn to watch the streaks of light across the Baltimore County sky while bundled together on the deck.
Ms. Hampson, who was a swimmer like her father, said he almost never missed one of her practices, even as his illness progressed, and watched multiday swim meets with an annotated program highlighting her races and those of her friends.
Ms. Litwack remembered listening to music in the car — they would frequently drive together as Mr. Hampson’s condition progressed — and him spending evenings chauffeuring her to and from concerts in Towson and Baltimore.
”He was always with us and supporting us and riding along with whatever it was we were doing,” Ms. Litwack said.
It was in his mid-50s that Mr. Hampson began showing signs of diminished focus in his work and confusion at home. Doctors at first treated him for what they believed was early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but as the problems worsened, they settled on a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia, an umbrella term for a group of disorders in which nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are lost, causing the lobes to atrophy and attacking the brain’s executive-function capacities.
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The disease, which is distinct from Alzheimer’s, is progressive and ultimately terminal. Mr. Hampson lived in a memory care community at Springwell for the last several years of his life, used a wheelchair for the last two years, and had stopped speaking. His 15 years with the illness far outlasted the average life expectancy of between six and eight years.
Family members said they had prayed for God to provide relief for Mr. Hampson after his years of struggle, but it still “came as a shock” when he died one day after his 72nd birthday.
“While there’s tremendous relief for him, it’s commingled with our grief,” Mrs. Hampson said. “All of us believe relief will win out because he suffered so.”
Mr. Hampson is survived by his mother, Rita Guidera Zungailia of Timonium; his wife, Joanne Hampson of Baldwin; his daughters, Erin Blake Levering of Reisterstown and Rebecca Anne Litwack and Elizabeth Mackenzie Hampson of Alexandria, Virginia; his brothers, Edward Joseph Zungailia of Lisbon, Portugal, Michael John Zungailia of Baltimore, John Francis Zungailia of Timonium, and Thomas Joseph Zungailia of West Grove, Pennsylvania; his sisters, Deborah Ann Hester of Denver, Mary Theresa Martin of Towson, Mary Carol Pearson of Billings, Montana, Mary Patricia Hayden of Baltimore, and Mary Elizabeth Bowden of Timonium; and grandsons William Kirkland Levering and Blake Whitaker Levering of Reisterstown.
A memorial service will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. at Hunt Valley Church’s ancillary location at The Point at 10950 Gilroy Road, Unit C.
Baltimore Sun reporters McKenna Oxenden and Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.