James W. Mid­del­ton

For­mer bank pres­i­dent and in­vest­ment banker led Eq­ui­table Trust be­fore turn­ing to other ven­tures

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD OBITUARIES - By Fred­er­ick N. Rasmussen fred.rasmussen@balt­sun.com

James W. “Bill” Mid­del­ton, for­mer pres­i­dent of the old Eq­ui­table Trust Co. who had a sec­ond ca­reer as an in­vest­ment banker, died July 4 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Tow­son from com­pli­ca­tions of a stroke. The Mount Wash­ing­ton res­i­dent was 87.

The son of farm­ers, James William Mid­del­ton was born in Aberdeen and raised on his fam­ily’s cat­tle farm.

He was a1949 grad­u­ate of the McDonogh School.

Fred­er­ick O’Neill Mitchell, for­mer owner and CEO of F.O. Mitchell & Bro., an Aberdeen can­nery founded in the 1880s, said he and Mr. Mid­del­ton were boy­hood friends.

“We went to McDonogh to­gether and Bill went on a full schol­ar­ship. He also had a won­der­ful mem­ory; when we went back for events at the school, he’d re­call things that I had for­got­ten from years ago,” said Mr. Mitchell, of Per­ry­man.

Mr. Mid­del­ton re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in eco­nomics in1953 from the Whar­ton School at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia. He served as a cap­tain in the Army Quar­ter­mas­ter Corps from 1953 un­til 1955, then en­tered Har­vard Busi­ness School. He re­ceived a mas­ter’s de­gree in busi­ness there in 1957

He be­gan his ca­reer in 1957 at the Eq­ui­table Trust Co. and by 1961 had been pro­moted to an as­sis­tant sec­re­tary-trea­surer. Mr. Mid­del­ton was later named a vice pres­i­dent.

By the time he was elected in 1979 as pres­i­dent of the bank and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, suc­ceed­ing H. Grant Hath­away, he had been re­spon­si­ble for all of the Eq­ui­table’s com­mer­cial bank­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Charles H. “Chuck” Hack­man of Arnold worked as a vice pres­i­dent of lend­ing and credit at Eq­ui­table un­der Mr. Mid­del­ton from 1970 to 1983.

“As bank pres­i­dent, he was a very smart guy, and as a banker, Bill was ahead of his time,” he said.

“When I be­came a loan of­fi­cer it was in the wake of the 1968 ri­ots. He wanted, through the Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, to make loans to mi­nor­ity busi­nesses,” Mr. Hack­man re­called. “He felt if the bank was go­ing to be suc­cess­ful, then Bal­ti­more had to be suc­cess­ful. He was ab­so­lutely a leader in that, with­out ques­tion.”

“Bill had a tremen­dous per­son­al­ity when it came to peo­ple and … he re­mem­bered ev­ery­one he ever met. He was unique that way,” said Mr. Mitchell, a for­mer mem­ber of the Eq­ui­table board.

“He was one of those guys ev­ery­one re­spected — the cus­tomers, di­rec­tors, the peo­ple who worked for him, and those in the com­mu­nity,” Mr. Hack­man said. “He had a huge net­work of peo­ple he knew.

“Bill was very out­go­ing and a great sto­ry­teller,” he added. “Every story he told had a laugh or two con­nected to it.”

Dur­ing Mr. Mid­del­ton’s ten­ure, he over­saw the bank’s re­place­ment of its ven­er­a­ble “Har­vey Wall­banker” au­to­mated teller ma­chines with a new sys­tem. He told The Bal­ti­more Sun in a 1981 in­ter­view, “Sim­ply stated, we are tak­ing the bank to the peo­ple.”

Af­ter step­ping down from Eq­ui­table in 1983, Mr. Mid­del­ton joined Legg Ma­son as a se­nior vice pres­i­dent and rep­re­sented the in­vest­ment firm in cor­po­rate fi­nance ac­tiv­i­ties re­gard­ing banks and thrift in­sti­tu­tions.

He later was a co-founder and chair­man of Mid­del­ton, Lim­burg & Co., which of­fered cor­po­rate fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and ad­vi­sory ser­vices, then served as a di­rec­tor at Ma­son Dixon Banchshares Inc., Bank of Mary­land.

Mr. Mid­del­ton then be­came a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Ev­er­green Cap­i­tal LLC, an in­vest­ment bank­ing firm that pro­vided ser­vices to en­trepreneurs of pri­vately held mid­dle-mar­ket com­pa­nies through­out the Mid-At­lantic. In 2010, he was ap­pointed to the board of CFG Com­mu­nity Bank in Tow­son.

“He went blind about eight years ago, but he was still wheel­ing and deal­ing,” said his wife of 56 years, the for­mer Mar­garet Rit­ter.

She said they had met when she worked as a teller at Eq­ui­table’s main of­fice.

“I think he was at­tracted to my black skirt and red sweater,” she said. “We went on sev­eral dates and my motto be­came ‘It can be done in ’61’ — that’s when we got mar­ried.”

In ad­di­tion to his pro­fes­sional ca­reer, Mr. Mid­del­ton taught even­ing bank­ing and in­dus­trial man­age­ment classes at the Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity from 1957 to 1970.

He served as a trus­tee for the McDonogh School from 1971 to 1983, and was chair­man from 1979 to 1983. Other chair­man­ships in­cluded Pres­by­te­rian Se­nior Ser­vices Inc., Cen­tral Mary­land Chap­ter of the March of Dimes, and the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau of Bal­ti­more.

He was a di­rec­tor of the Greater Bal­ti­more Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Med­i­cal Mu­tual Li­a­bil­ity In­sur­ance So­ci­ety of Mary­land, Mid-At­lantic Man­age­ment Ser­vices Inc. and oth­ers. He­had also been on the board of Pro­fes­sion­als Ad­vo­cate In­sur­ance Co. in Hunt Val­ley.

He was a mem­ber of the Bal­ti­more Coun­try Club, Cen­ter Club and the En­gi­neers Club.

At the En­gi­neers Club he was a 15-year trus­tee of its Gar­rett-Ja­cobs Man­sion En­dow­ment Fund. Last year in The Her­itage, the fund’s news­let­ter, he said it had been an honor to serve on the board.

“I very much like his­tory and Bal­ti­more. The foun­da­tion gave me the op­por­tu­nity to do both,” he said. “It was a real plea­sure to work with other mem­bers ... in mak­ing the man­sion, a na­tional trea­sure, avail­able to the cit­i­zens of Bal­ti­more.”

For years, he and his wife lived on Edgevale Road in Roland Park, then moved in 2016 to the Spring­well Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity in Mount Wash­ing­ton.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing an Amer­i­can his­tory buff, Mr. Mid­del­ton en­joyed writ­ing po­etry and was an ac­com­plished wa­ter­color artist who liked paint­ing land­scapes and towns.

He was also an in­vet­er­ate fan of the old Bal­ti­more Colts as well as the Ori­oles and Ravens.

He en­joyed va­ca­tion­ing at Ocean City, N.J., and on the East­ern Shore.

Mr. Mid­del­ton was an ac­tive mem­ber of Sec­ond Pres­by­te­rian Church, where a me­mo­rial ser­vice was held Mon­day.

In ad­di­tion to his wife, he is sur­vived by two sons, James W. Mid­del­ton Jr. of Mills­boro, Del., and Daniel M. Mid­del­ton of Rux­ton; a daugh­ter, Holly Ann Tamisiea of Wil­mette, Ill.; a sis­ter, Ann Mid­del­ton Kelly of Glen Arm; and four grand­chil­dren. James W. “Bill” Mid­del­ton was a trus­tee of the En­gi­neers Club’s en­dow­ment fund.

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