Paul G. Wist, a longtime CPA and partner in the accounting firm of C.W. Amos & Company who spent a decade of his retirement volunteering his expertise overseas, died Dec. 15 at Stella Maris Hospice of pneumonia and complications from Alzheimer’s. He was 89.
“Paul Wist was the most polite, the kindest man you could ever meet,” said John Wilson, who was hired at C.W. Amos by Mr. Wist in 1971 and succeeded him as the firm’s managing partner. “He was very humble, very respectful. He was a brilliant man, the brightest CPA ever. … There isn’t anything in public accounting he wasn’t a near-expert on.”
Born in Baltimore and raised in Irvington, Mr. Wist was the son of George J. and Regina M. Ward Wist, who ran Wist Realty out of a headquarters in Irvington, said his son, Paul G. Wist Jr. A 1946 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School, Mr. Wist took night classes in accounting at the Baltimore College of Commerce, which later merged with the University of Baltimore. After enlisting in the Navy and serving as aviation storekeeper on the carrier USS Kearsarge, he resumed his studies, graduating with an accounting degree in 1951.
Mr. Wist joined C.W. Amos in January 1952; he passed the CPA exam later that year, and became a certified financial planner in 1987. He was active in the firm’s tax practice and as a consultant in financial and cost accounting systems, and was often called as an expert in litigation cases. Mr. Wist became the firm’s first partner in July 1956 and was elevated to managing partner in 1968. He served as senior partner from 1985 until retiring in 1991.
His father loved being a CPA, the younger Mr. Wist said. “He embraced it. He was Mr. CPA in Baltimore for all those years. He was meant to be a CPA like Atticus Finch was meant to be a lawyer.”
Following his retirement, Mr. Wist volunteered from 1991 to 2001 with the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), helping manufacturing companies “improve cost accounting methods and increase product profitability in the global marketplace,” said his son. He traveled to Guatemala, Egypt, Russia, Lithuania and the Republic of Georgia. Mr. Wist made several trips to Poland, his son said, and talked of seeing conditions there “that were as sparse as they could be.”
Mr. Wist joined the Rotary Club of Towson in 1957, serving as the group’s president in 1986-1987. Even on family vacations, his son recalled, it was not unusual for him to take meetings related to Rotary business.
Mr. Wist served on numerous boards and organizations, including Blue Cross of Maryland (1965-1973), Associated Catholic Charities (1976-1988), Cardinal Shehan Center for the Aging (1977-1997, St. Joseph Hospital Foundation (1988-1995), University of Baltimore (1985-1996) and Children’s Fund Inc. (1986-1995). He also served as a trustee of New Cathedral Cemetery, Cherry Hill Town Center and Stella Maris Inc.
Among his many awards were the Cardinal Gibbons medal (1973), Papal medal (1982). University of Baltimore Distinguished Service Award (1990), Alumnus of the Year at University of Baltimore (1982) and Distinguished Alumnus at Mount Saint Joseph High School (1999). Mr. Wist was a member of the American Institute Certified Public Accountants Council, Maryland Association of CPAs and Financial Planning Association.
An enthusiastic skier until he was about 80, Mr. Wist took his family — which, beginning in the mid-1950s, lived in various locations in the Towson and Timonium areas — on numerous skiing vacations, in the U.S. as well as Switzerland and Austria. Friends were always welcome to come along, his son remembered. “There was always a place for one more sleeping bag.”
In addition to his son, who lives in Hampstead, Mr. Wist is survived by his wife of 64 years, the former Mary Lee Vaeth of Towson; two other sons, Timothy Wist of Phoenix, Md., and Matthew WIST of Hampstead; a daughter, Ami Carrier of Parkton; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He is also survived by a brother, Michael Wist of Pasadena, and two sisters, Rose M. Kozojet of Timonium and Jeanne M. Gobel of Catonsville.