Arthur L. Rhoads Jr., a Baltimore attorney who maintained a general law practice for more than six decades, died Thursday of complications from a stroke at St. Agnes Hospital. He was 87.
"He was a lawyer's lawyer and was representing the little guy, like Andy Griffith on the TV show 'Matlock' before there was a 'Matlock,' " said Andrew J. Long, who retired from the practice of law in 2001. "He was an incredible man and friend. There were no airs about him. "
The son of a grocer and a homemaker, Arthur Lampe Rhoads Jr. was born and raised in Frederick, where he graduated in 1942 from St. John's High School.
He began his college studies at what was then Loyola College and left during World War II to serve with the Army in the Pacific. He served briefly as a guard for Gen. Douglas MacArthur and later was an administrator.
At the end of the war, Mr. Rhoads returned to Baltimore and completed his education on the GI Bill of Rights. He then entered the University of Maryland School of Law, where he earned his degree in 1951.
Mr. Rhoads, who maintained a general law practice, began his career in his home on 33rd Street near Memorial Stadium. He later practiced from his home on North Rolling Road and Ingleside Avenue.
For the last two decades, he practiced in an office at 704 Frederick Road, family members said.
Mr. Long met Mr. Rhoads in a courtroom in 1971.
"It was my first case, and Arthur said, 'I can see you're just out of law school.' After we settled the case, he said, "Counsel, can you stay a minute?' That was the first time anyone called me that," Mr. Long said.
After Mr. Long lost his job, Mr. Rhoads asked him to join his practice.
"He taught me a lot about the practice of law. He was a relaxed guy and liked to tell jokes, and we never had a cross word," said Mr. Long. "When it came to judges, he said, 'I'll hold your hand, kiss his ring, and you'll do fine. After all, he puts his pants on just like you and me.' What a bird Arthur was."
Mr. Long said while his friend and associate had a general practice, he specialized in bankruptcies, tax law, income tax and small criminal cases.
"Arthur took in whatever came in the door. He was very adept at it," said Mr. Long.
"He wasn't in law just for the fees; he wanted to help his clients. He'd bend over backward to help them, and if they couldn't pay the fee right away, he'd say, 'Pay me when you can,' " said Mr. Long.
"He went to work two days before his death," said a daughter, Patricia E. "Trish" Rhoads of Catonsville. "He was a man of integrity, was generous to his clients and had a photographic memory. He was a man of humor, quick with a joke and with a twinkle in his eye, had a story to tell everyone he met."
In 1951, he married Claire Oppitz, whom he had met on a blind date. She died in 2009.
Mr. Rhoads, who was an accomplished pianist, enjoyed the music of Liberace, Victor Borge, Roger Williams and Ferrante & Teicher.
"With a Natty Boh in one hand and a menu in the other, he took Claire to various restaurants, his favorite pastime. Church, working and eating were his main priorities," said Ms. Rhoads.
"Some of his favorite restaurants were Snyder's Grove, which just closed, and Michener's and the Chesapeake, both at BWI, and Matthew's 1600," she said. "He'd go to Ocean City pretty much each weekend to relax, watching the Orioles and the Ravens, and dine on crab cakes. He liked eating at Captain's Galley and Harpoon Hannah's."
"Arthur loved a good crab cake and a filet," Mr. Long said. "One time, we were eating at Michener's and he complained to the waiter that the crab cake had too much filler. Thereafter, the waiter would say, 'Mr. Rhoads there is no filler in the crab cake' and it became known as 'Mr. Rhoads' Crab Cake.' "
Mr. Rhoads was a daily communicant at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 30 Melvin Ave., Catonsville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Rhoads is survived by four sons, George A. Rhoads of Cockeysville, Thomas J. Rhoads of Catonsville, Joseph I. Rhoads of Baltimore and Francis X. Rhoads of New Market; three other daughters, Mary Zaepfel of Westminster, Sister Ann Claire Rhodes, Daughters of Charity, of Emmitsburg, and Sister Jean Rhoads, Daughters of Charity, of St. Louis; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Another son, James E. Rhoads, died in 1988.