Alan D. Hecht, a retired insurance executive active in his industry for more than six decades who was also a national leader in his field, died of congestive heart failure April 2 at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and hospital. The Pikesville resident was 94.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Lee I. Hecht, an attorney and judge of the old Appeals Tax Court of Baltimore, and Miriam Dannenberg Hecht, a homemaker.
Raised on Bateman Avenue, he was a 1936 graduate of Forest Park High School, where he was editor of the yearbook.
He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the Johns Hopkins University, where he was elected to two honorary service fraternities, Omicron Delta Kappa and Pi Delta Epsilon. He later returned to Hopkins and earned a master's degree in liberal arts.
From 1941 to 1945, he served stateside in the Medical Administration Corps of the Army. He left military service as a first lieutenant.
He then bought a Brookhill Road home in Northwest Baltimore. There he raised his family in a community of newly built semidetached houses constructed by Joseph Meyerhoff.
"Most of the residents knew each well other before the war," said his son, Stephen Hecht. "They remained friends and often did business together. I would say half the people who lived on that street were my father's business clients."
He began his insurance career in 1945 as a salesman for the Travelers Insurance Co.
In 1960, he and Henry Schoenfeld, a Travelers colleague, formed the Hecht-Schoenfeld Insurance Agency, which subsequently merged with the Morton Wolman Co. to become Wolman-Hecht-Schoenfeld.
"He loved people, and people loved him. He had the ability to make his clients and friends feel as if they were the only ones in the room," said his son, with whom he worked for 25 years. "The way we worked our insurance business, we were generalists. We always had a mix of personal and commercial clients. Frequently, our commercial clients had their personal insurance with us, too."
He said his father was an accomplished public speaker who was good at telling a joke.
"He was not only generous officially with charities, but on a personal basis with family and friends," said Stephen Hecht, who lives in Owings Mills.
Mr. Schoenfeld left to form his own agency in 1964, and Wolman and Hecht continued as Wolman-Hecht Inc. at 10 South St. in downtown Baltimore. The business merged in 1992 with Tongue, Brooks & Co., also in downtown Baltimore, on St. Paul Place.
In 1995, Tongue, Brooks was acquired by HRH. Mr. Hecht then joined Insurance Inc., from which he retired in 2008 at age 89.
His son said Mr. Hecht promoted professionalism in the insurance industry. He became a chartered life underwriter in 1952, and from 1954 to 1981 he taught the economics portion of the life underwriter program at Hopkins.
He traveled widely in 1964 to 1965, when he served as national president of the American Society of Chartered Life Underwriters, now the Society of Financial Service Professionals.
"As busy as he was, he was always home for dinner at 6 p.m," said his son. "When he was asked to be national president, he called a family meeting, one of the few, and asked us our opinion. It meant he was away for a long time. He loved that year."
In 1991, the Baltimore chapter of that group awarded him its highest honor, the Helen C. Hottenbacher Memorial Service Award. He also received the George S. Robertson Award for service from the Baltimore Association of Life Underwriters.
Mr. Hecht was a past president of Oheb Shalom Congregation, the Baltimore Jewish Council, the Baltimore Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and the Associated Placement and Guidance Bureau. He was a former Sinai Hospital board member.
Mr. Hecht played golf at the Suburban Club. His son said he was handy at woodworking and built a workshop at his weekend home in Fairfield, Pa.
Services were held April 5 at Oheb Shalom.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 27 years, the former Marcia L. Levin, an interior designer; three other sons, Bennett Oberfeld of Chicago, Michael Oberfeld of Atlanta and Stewart Oberfeld of Philadelphia; three daughters, Nancy Hecht Ross of Free Union, Va., Betsy Hecht Cramb of Clearwater, Fla., and Michele Fox of Atlanta; 12 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Mr. Hecht's first wife of 41 years, the former Margaret "Peggy" Moses, died in 1984.