William Stump, a veteran Baltimore editor and journalist, died of pneumonia Wednesday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The former Cockeysville resident was 90.
Recalled for his open mind and the help he gave aspiring writers, Mr. Stump was a past editor of Baltimore Magazine, which he led from a Chamber of Commerce publication to an urban monthly. He was also the old News American's last editorial page editor.
Born in Orange, N.J., and raised in Emmorton in Harford County, he was the son of Dr. William Stump, a ship's physician, and Constance Poor, whose father was a founder of the Standard & Poor's financial ratings. He was a 1942 graduate of St. James School in Hagerstown.
Family members said that Mr. Stump had an eye defect that prevented him from entering the military. Determined to serve, he volunteered for the American Field Service and drove an ambulance throughout the Middle East, Italy, France and Germany. He followed British and French troops and picked up casualties of war.
"It was a traumatic battlefield experience," said his son, William "Rocky" Stump of Carlisle, Pa.
He lived in the 1940s in New York City and edited a publication, The Villager. In 1949, he joined the staff of The Sun and became a prolific writer for the Sun Magazine. He often had more than one byline in the weekly publication and wrote under two other names, James C. Bertram and Henry Rauch.
He wrote numerous articles explaining the origins of Baltimore street names. It was called "The Man in the Street," beginning with John Potee. He also often wrote local history. His subjects included Baltimore's last gas lights, the Maryland Club and Clifton Park. He worked closely with photographer A. Aubrey Bodine.
Mr. Stump used target archery as a means of strengthening his weak eye. In 1956, he started a magazine, the Eastern Bow Hunter, and another, Archery World, which became the official publication of the National Archery Association. In 1958, after resigning from The Sun, he was named editor of Gardens Houses and People, a Baltimore monthly focused on the northern suburbs.
In August 1964, he was named editor of Baltimore Magazine, then published by the Chamber of Commerce. For four times under his tenure it received the grand award of the American Association of Commerce Publications.
"Bill was a gentleman, a good editor, and while at the Chamber of Commerce helped build the foundation for Baltimore Magazine to, in a few years, became an independent, commercially successful publication that won many awards for its journalism," said J. Stanley Heuisler, the magazine's former editor, who was later the Columbus Center's director.
According to a 1972 Sun article, Baltimore Magazine began selling on news stands in late 1970. Mr. Stump published features on Block stripper Blaze Starr, financial troubles at the Johns Hopkins University, problems in Columbia and on Baltimore's homosexual community.
"The magazine is part of the media of Baltimore and as such should report facts and situations as they are," he said in the 1972 Sun article. "What I have tried to do is to capture the real feel of Baltimore's problems as well as its aspirations."
Mr. Stump said he realized he might be on a "collision course" with members of the Chamber of Commerce. In 1972, he was fired.
"But I couldn't do it any other way. I was more interested in doing a good job overall than in keeping my job here," he said in 1972 in The Sun.
He was immediately hired at the old Hearst afternoon daily The News American, where he directed the editorial page and wrote editorials until the paper's closing in 1986.
"Bill Stump provided a steady voice and clear eye for the people of Baltimore and the readers of the News American at a time of great change in the city and near-tumult in our newsroom. He was smart, resourceful and terribly loyal to his family, to the city and to his co-workers," said the paper's former executive editor, James Toedtman of Savannah, Ga.
"I think he enjoyed his work. He always had a smile and a sparkle in his eye that was infectious. His News American editorials were wise and provocative," said Mr. Toedtman, who is now a Flagler College faculty member. "They consistently won praise and prizes in regional competition. They also frequently drew grimaces at City Hall, as he had a special knack for tweaking the late William Donald Schaefer."
Mr. Toedtman also said, "I well remember the twinkle in his eye when we were mischievous — like calling on the NFL to discipline Robert Irsay, describing a new downtown building as 11 tuna-fish cans or sending a 'Heal to the Chief' get-well card to then-President Ronald Reagan. He was a wonderful human being and colleague and part of a group of people thoroughly dedicated to their craft and to their city and to each other."
Others recalled his unflappable personality and newsroom demeanor.
"Bill Stump was one of the most relentlessly cheerful individuals I've ever met. His sense of decency and good humor stood out in a business that is known for its cynics and tough guys," said political commentator Frank De Filippo of Baltimore, who worked with Mr. Stump. "As an editor, he wore velvet gloves and he never let bad news or bad writing get him down. How Bill smiled through it all is among the many fond memories of my days at the News American."
James A. Hunt of Bloomfield, N.J., a retired New York Times editor who worked with Mr. Stump at the News American, said, "Bill Stump, ever upbeat, ever positive, gave me greater encouragement and more effective support than anyone else I ever worked with. Part of my job was editing all the op-ed columnists, and those folks can be cranky and stubborn. Bill always had my back."
After the paper folded, Mr. Stump became editor of the Maryland Church News, an Episcopal Diocese of Maryland publication.
He had been a member of the Hamilton Street Club, the Six Napoleons and the Drones and Diogenes Club. He remained a target archer with the Oriole Archers.
Mr. Stump donated his body to Johns Hopkins Hospital for eye research. He requested that no funeral be held.
In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Cassandra Stump Carson of Baltimore; a brother, John Wilson Stump of Bel Air; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. His wife of 69 years, the former Joyce Morrill, died this year. A daughter, Sheldon Stump, died in 2011.