William Single III, a Baltimore lawyer and special policy adviser for an international health care organization, died Wednesday of leukemia at his Rosedale home. He was 80.
"Bill had a boundless interest in things that he wanted to benefit from — which made him the eternal student," said Joseph Judd, chief operating officer at Jhpiego Corp., a nonprofit health care affiliate of the Johns Hopkins University. "A conversation with Bill always made my day. There are five adjectives to describe him: dependable, honest, thoughtful, wise and kind."
The son of William Single Jr., an attorney, and Lillian Marguerite Griffin Single Smith, an American Export Lines secretary, William Single III was born in Baltimore and raised on Elwood Avenue in Highlandtown.
He graduated in 1953 from City College, where he enjoyed theater and appeared in a 1953 production of Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth."
As a teenager, he met and fell in love with Gloria Ann Pindell, and the two later married.
He earned a bachelor's degree in 1957 in political science from Johns Hopkins, graduating second in his department.
He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Sigma Alpha national political science honor fraternity and was awarded the Julius Turner Book Prize from Hopkins for the best senior thesis in political science.
A Fulbright scholar, Mr. Single studied for a year at the University of Manchester in England, pursuing a course of study in its law school and history department.
He earned a law degree from Yale University in 1961 and was admitted to the Maryland Bar that year. He began his legal career with Weinberg and Green and, two years later, joined the legal department of Commercial Credit Co., which later became a core unit of Citi Group.
Mr. Single's work focused on commercial finance, and he traveled widely in negotiating, drafting and closing commercial loans and leases throughout the country.
After leaving Citi Group, he served as vice president and general counsel of the Johns Hopkins Health System Corp. from 1986 to 1989.
Mr. Single practiced law with the Baltimore firm of Francomano and Karpook from 1989 to 1997, when he was named an assistant attorney general for Maryland and worked for the state Department of Business and Economic Development.
He was a past chairman of the Lawyers Committee of the American Association of Equipment Lessors and a member of the American and Maryland bar associations.
"He never wanted to retire and kept on working," said his son, William Single IV of Chevy Chase.
For the last 12 years, Mr. Single was special policy adviser at Jhpiego Corp., working from its headquarters in Fells Point.
At Jhpiego he was responsible for overseeing all contractual work of the organization, which has a goal to improve the lives of women and their families in 155 countries across the world.
"Bill joined us after having had a very distinguished legal career. He really wanted to be working in the area of global health," said Mr. Judd. "He was really the guy who helped us not only do good, but do well. His expertise made so many contributions that helped the whole organizations and its offices in various countries."
He said Mr. Single approached work with "wisdom and thoroughness."
"He played a major role in the growth of the organization," said Mr. Judd. "He had a very positive demeanor, was a good taskmaster, and believed in the purpose of our mission. He could tease out issues and find solutions."
He described Mr. Single as "a gentleman and a teacher who was both modest and a role model."
"If his staff produced something important, he made sure the staff member's name was on it — not his. He wanted them to have the credit," he said.
Interested in theater from his days at City College, Mr. Single was a longtime member and former member of the Paint and Powder Club, which raises money for charities by staging an annual variety show.
For more than 30 years, he sang with the organization's men's chorus and performed in the annual show.
Mr. Single was active in alumni affairs at Johns Hopkins and served on the executive committees of both the national and Baltimore chapters of the university's alumni association. He was a member for 18 years of the National Alumni Council.
Mr. Single was a member of the Johns Hopkins Club. He served on its board of governors for 11 years and as president for three years.
He was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company of Baltimore, founded in 1763. The group is considered the oldest civic organization in the United States, and has a mission to protect citizens and property in Baltimore.
Mr. Single was a member of the United Evangelical Church, where he served 16 years on its governing council. His wife was a choir member.
He enjoyed fishing, and also collecting beer cans and stamps — especially first-day covers. Fond of steam railroading, he also had amassed a collection of videos devoted to the subject, his son said.
Funeral services will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at his church, 3200 Dillon St. in Canton.
In addition to his son, Mr. Single is survived by his wife of 59 years; a daughter, Deborah Single Hays of Nashville, Tenn.; and four grandchildren.