Is this the legendary face of the title profession in Washington? The most distinguished specimen the real estate bar has to offer? You bet it is, and perhaps the most beloved. Of course, that’s LandAmerica's Stuart Levin behind the NZ cap, doing his Thursday docent duties at the “large mammal” house of the National Zoo. But look quickly: After 35 years, and a farewell tour longer than the Eagles’, Stuart, a mere 57, retires in three months.
Now that he’s taught thick-skinned friends Shanti and Kandula to wave at him, he doesn’t have much time to reach his next goal of teaching the hippo the Penn State fight song. Stuart and wife Lori are building a one-story five bedroom Victorian in bayside Fenwick, DE, on a golf course at the 180 yard marker of the 18th fairway. For years he’s driven 45 minutes to play at International in Fairfax; soon he will walk 200 yards and play seven days a week, not three. They also want to live in Umbria or Tuscany for six months, if they can just figure out what to do with their Great Dane, Zephyr.
Stuart started in title law out of AU law school in ’75, then joined Commercial Settlements with founder Jerry Perras in ’84. It sold to Commonwealth Title in ‘96 which later merged into LandAm, where he’s worked 11 years. That’s why LandAm hosted 30 friends Monday at Four Streams in Beallsville for what Stuart calls a “hit and giggle” tourney. Stuart, second from right, with caddy Mike, Marriott General Counsel Ed Ryan (who Stuart has known since they were on competing high school cross country teams in Pittsburgh), Arent Fox’s Mike Leahy, and Arnold & Porter’s George Covucci. How was the golf? “We laughed, cried, sang, and danced, and now the woods are filled with golf balls,” Stuart said.
LandAm CEO Ted Chandler, Venable’s Robert Gottlieb (who worked at the same camp with Stuart in the Poconos one summer long ago), Jackson Capital’s Dave Cox, and First Washington’s Stuart Halpert. By the way, we’re always asking subjects something interesting about themselves, like whether they’ve just climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro. Ted answered that, well yes, he actually had done so earlier this year.
So, who will succeed Stuart at LandAm? It will take a village—deals are far bigger and than they used to be—but fortunately they have one: a big team of 35, led by Chris Naughten, and including stars like David Nelson, Jeanne LaBelle, Candace Chazen, Bill Gessner, Sally Webb, and Robin Alsop.
Other friends: Perseus Realty president Bob Cohen, former Boston Properties general counsel Steve Clineburg, Studley’s John Kyle, LandAmerica regional chief Dennis Vendetti, and Bingham’s Mike Pickett on the final hole. Everyone looked surprisingly chipper for playing in 90 degree heat. Next stop: A Capital Hilton roast, November 14.