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Obituaries

William F. Blue, a noted Baltimore trusts and estates attorney and former president of the Maryland State Golf Association, dies

William F. Blue, a noted Baltimore trusts and estates attorney, an avid golfer and a former president of the Maryland State Golf Association, died of congestive heart failure Friday at Sinai Hospital. The Lutherville resident was 89.

“Bill was my Gilman classmate and one of my oldest friends who is no longer with us,” said James Piper III, who was a founding partner of O’Conor Piper & Flynn, a Baltimore real estate firm.

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“He was very kind, efficient, thoughtful, professional, and he was my attorney,” Mr. Piper said. “What I liked most about Bill was that he got so much accomplished, and he did it in a very humble way, never calling attention to himself.”

Dr. William F. Fritz, a retired Baltimore internist, was a longtime friend and client.

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“Bill Blue was a wonderful gentleman, a highly respected lawyer and an outstanding golfer,” Dr. Fritz said. “He was kind, modest and soft-spoken. He was a steadfast and generous friend and, above all else, a truly fine human being.”

William Fownes Blue, son of Halbert Johnston Blue, vice president of the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad, and Louise Parker Fownes Blue, was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and moved to Washington with his family in 1940. They relocated to Owings Mills seven years later.

Mr. Blue was a 1952 graduate of Gilman School, where he played varsity baseball and pitched against future Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who played for Southern High School.

When he was 18, Mr. Blue became the youngest person to win two golf club championships — one at the Baltimore Country Club and the other at the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club. In 1951, he played against Arnold Palmer in the inaugural Bubby Worsham Memorial Tournament at the Bethesda County Club. The tournament was named for Mr. Palmer’s Wake Forest University roommate who was killed in an automobile accident.

Mr. Blue earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 1956 from the University of Virginia, where he was captain of the golf team his senior year. After serving as a lieutenant in the Army at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and Fort Story in Virginia Beach, he earned his law degree in 1960 from the University of Virginia School of Law.

He began his legal career in 1960 in trusts and estates in the trust department of Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co. and, seven years later, joined Constable, Alexander & Daneker, now Wright, Constable & Skeen, as a trusts and estates attorney and was made a partner.

In 1985, Mr. Blue went to work for Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver, now Baker Donaldson, where he remained chairman of the trusts and estates department until 1996, when he established his own firm in Towson, Blue & Edwards P.A., with Mary Baker “Peggy” Edwards, a former Ober Kaler colleague.

Mr. Blue’s son Robert Garnett Blue of Riderwood became a partner in the firm in 1999, which, two years later, became Blue & Blue, P.A. In 2004, it merged with Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, where Mr. Blue was a partner and of counsel until retiring in 2020.

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“He was still coming in wearing a full suit and tie in spite of the pandemic and was always fully dressed to a tee. That’s the way he was,” his son said.

“He was very bright and had a keen mind and was just a real people person. Estate planning is a very intimate area of the law, and he could easily talk to families about wealth and the transfer of wealth,” Mr. Blue said.

“Bill had a wonderful career as a lawyer and had 60 years at the bar,” said Edward J. Gilliss, a partner with Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid. “He was the personification of competence and courtesy, which he so nimbly blended with his work, family and golf.”

Mr. Blue was a member of the American College of Trusts and Estates Council. His directorships included NationsBank of Maryland and Legg Mason Trust Co., now 1919 Investment Counsel.

For more than 60 years, he was a director of the Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad, a North Carolina short-line railroad, founded in 1892 by his grandfather, John Blue, to transport timber and turpentine harvested from pine trees on the family farm in Pinehurst, North Carolina, to Fayetteville, North Carolina.

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He had served on the board of the old children’s hospital and had been a member of the board of Garrison Forest School, Oldfields School and the John Carroll School.

Mr. Blue was president of the University of Virginia Alumni Association from 1984 to 1985 and was the driving force in the early 1980s in establishing the Jefferson Scholarship at the university. Presently, more than 1,000 of the scholarships have been awarded, and the endowment has grown to more than $500 million, family members said.

“This was one of Bill’s noteworthy accomplishments that allowed kids to go to the University of Virginia on scholarships,” Mr. Piper said. “Bill was just a wonderful man.”

Mr. Blue had a notable pedigree when it came to the America golfing scene.

Mr. Blue came from a notable American golfing family, and his namesake, his maternal grandfather, William C. Fownes Jr., won the U.S. Amateur in 1910, served as president of the United States Golf Association and was the first captain of the U.S. Walker Cup Team.

In 1903, his maternal great-grandfather, Henry C. Fownes, founded and designed the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, which is a National Historic Landmark. The club has been the venue for nine U.S. Opens and host to more U.S. golf championships than any other golf course in the country.

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Mr. Blue’s parents were early pioneers of Pinehurst’s golfing community and were founding members of the Pinehurst Country Club, where his father attained status as a “nationally known amateur golfer.”

From 1979 to 2000, he was a member of the United States Golf Association Junior Committee, which included refereeing a match with Tiger Woods. Mr. Blue was president of the Maryland State Golf Association from 1981 to 1982.

For 52 years, Mr. Blue and his wife, the former Katherine Garnett Broaddus, whom he married in 1957, had lived at The Briars, their Golf Course Road home in Owings Mills. Since 2016, they have resided at Brightwood Retirement Community in Lutherville.

He enjoyed watching over his investments and reading The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. He maintained a deep interest in American and Maryland history and was an avid reader of both.

Mr. Blue was a longtime communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. ThomasLane, Owings Mills, where a celebration-of-life service will be held at 11 a.m. June 21.

In addition to his wife of 65 years and his son, Mr. Blue is survived by two other sons, William Fownes Blue Jr. of Charlotte, North Carolina, and John Tyler Blue of Bethesda; a daughter, Katherine Macon Blue of Potomac; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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This article has been updated to remove an incorrect board membership. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.


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