Dr. William D. Young, a former longtime dentist who was also a prestidigitator, tap dancer and prankster, died Wednesday at Gilchrist Center in Towson of complications from a stroke. The former Timonium resident was 94.
William Duane Young, son of Clarence Young, a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad civil engineer, and his wife, Barbara Young, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and was raised on Staten Island, New York, after the railroad transferred his father there.
After graduating in 1945 from the Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Dr. Young served as a military police officer in the Army Air Corps for a year.
Dr. Young earned a bachelor’s degree in 1949 from the University of Maryland, and was a 1954 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.
“He first practiced in our home in Ayleshire Road and then later on University Parkway,” said his daughter, Suzanne K. Young of Timonium.
In 1962, he moved his practice to an office on Allegheny Avenue in Towson, when he joined another dentist, Gus Machen, and the two established Machen & Young. Dr. Young retired in 1986.
Dr. Young was a man of varied interests. He enjoyed chess and computers, was an accomplished furniture maker and painter, and liked to ski and golf. He was also a lifelong dog lover.
He was in his 70s when to he learned to tap dance.
“He taught himself to tap dance in the basement of our Chapel Ridge Road home in Timonium by watching a tap-dancing training video,” his daughter said. The Audrey Varlas’ Senior Cabaret Players needed more guys so he joined and we took the show on the road. We played senior centers and retirement communities throughout the Baltimore metro area.”
When he was 82, he made his acting debut at Spotlighters Theatre in Baltimore.
“I do community theater and we were doing ‘The Prevalence of Mrs. Seal,’ a dark comedy, and we needed an old guy to play my butler. Se we asked him if he’d do it and he said he would, plus he had to learn lines,” Ms. Young said.
Dr. Young was also interested in magic, an interest that began in his youth.
“It was something that started I think in the 1930s, but I’m not sure what started his interest in it,” said his son, William D. “Bud” Young Jr. “But, ever since I was a little kid I watched him perform magic and he later taught me. He’d perform for family and friends at gatherings.
“He did all of the classic magic act and was a good showman. He was so talented.”
One of his signature tricks involved a single playing card.
“He’d take a card and tear it in half. He then opened the refrigerator took out a grapefruit, cut it open, and the other half of the card was inside,” his daughter said. “Don’t ask me, I still don’t know how he did it.”
Dr. Young was also a connoisseur of pranks.
“It was during the Gulf War and he and a few buddies, they were all in their 70s, were going to go into an Army recruiting office and offer to reenlist,” his son said. “However, he was the only one who went in and he showed the recruiting officer his card from when he was in the Army Air Corps years ago. The astonished officer told him, ‘We have an age limit here.’ Anyway, my father was always a gentleman when he did pranks.”
Dr. Young was lighthearted and easygoing.
“He had a great sense of humor and laughed a lot. He really had a wry sense of humor,” his son said.
Dr. Young and his wife, the former Culver North, a registered nurse who had trained at Union Memorial Hospital and whom he had married in 1951, lived part-time at a retirement community from 1995 to 2005, in Sarasota, Florida, and had recently moved to Charter Senior Living on North Charles Street in Towson.
The couple were inveterate fans of cruises and had sailed to the Caribbean, Baltic Sea and South Pacific, among other places.
“They also did timeshare trades from Lake Tahoe to Cape Cod and the Canary Islands and many other places,” his daughter said.
During the 1990s, Dr. Young participated in two medical missions to Guatemala that were sponsored by St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis. He had been a longtime congregant of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Loch Raven Boulevard and later at Saint Stephen’s Anglican Church in Timonium.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 25 at Saint Stephen’s Anglican Church at 11856 Mays Chapel Road.
In addition to his wife of nearly 70 years, and his son and daughter, Dr. Young is survived by two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.