Richard P. Gilbert, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals from 1976 until his retirement last November, died early yesterday at the home of friends in White Hall. He had been ill with leukemia.
A memorial service for Judge Gilbert, who was 67 and lived in Annapolis, will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Charles Street and Melrose Avenue.
Recently, he was the recipient of the Heeney Award of the criminal section of the Maryland State Bar Association.
He also had received a Distinguished Jurist Award from the Sigma Delta Kappa law fraternity and an honorary doctorate from the University of Baltimore, which named him Alumnus of the Year in 1982.
Judge Gilbert was appointed to the Court of Special Appeals in 1971, five years before being named chief judge.
The first chief judge of that court, Robert C. Murphy, now chief judge of the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, said yesterday that Judge Gilbert was "an extraordinarily able fellow, particularly as a judge."
"He was absolutely exceptional. He did the work of three men," Judge Murphy said.
Former chairman of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, Judge Gilbert had worked on an American Bar Association advisory committee on judicial discipline and had been on the executive committee of the Council of Chief Judges of Courts of Appeal.
Before his appointment to the Court of Special Appeals, he had been a partner of Marvin Mandel in the former governor's law firm of Mandel, Gilbert, Rocklin and Franklin since 1966.
Earlier, he had been a partner when the firm was Gilbert and Rocklin.
A Republican, he served as president of the Young Republicans from 1955 to 1957.
From 1959 to 1961, he headed the Republican State Central Committee for Baltimore.
Judge Gilbert had been a magistrate in Baltimore between 1955 and 1959, mostly in traffic court, where he served as acting chief traffic magistrate in 1958.
From 1963 until 1965, he was chairman of the Off Street Parking Commission and from 1965 until 1971 was a member of the city's Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals.
Born in Baltimore, he was a graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School and the University of Baltimore, where he earned an associate in arts degree and two law degrees.
He served in the Army in the Pacific during World War II. During the Korean War, he was a lawyer in court-martial proceedings.
Author or co-author of a number of professional papers and books, Judge Gilbert lectured at the American Academy of Judicial Education and taught at the University of Baltimore, where he was chairman of the Law School Advisory Committee. He was a member of the American Judicature Society and of the Baltimore, Maryland and American bar associations.
He is survived by his wife, the former Audrey Rude; two sons, Richard J. Gilbert of Rodgers Forge and Paul T. Gilbert of Annapolis; two brothers, William F. and Bruce M. Gilbert, both of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; a sister, Yvonne Harberts of Hudson, Fla.; and three grandchildren.