James H. Cook, Towson lawyer

June 24, 1993

James H. Cook, who had practiced law in Towson since 1956 and was a former president of the Maryland State Bar Association, died Monday of cancer at his Towson home. He was 74.

Mr. Cook retired this month as a partner in the law firm of Venable, Baetjer and Howard. He joined that firm in 1989 when the Towson firm of Cook, Howard, Downes and Tracy was merged with it.

David D. Downes, who had been his partner in both firms, said, "We will all miss him dearly. Practicing with Jim Cook was an honor and a privilege. He was a second father and teacher to many of our young lawyers."

Older lawyers often sought his advice both formally and informally, according to others in the firm.

Judge Edward A. DeWaters, chief judge of the Circuit Court in Baltimore County and administrative judge for the 3rd Circuit, described Mr. Cook as "one of the finest lawyers ever to appear before me."

Born in Pasadena, Mr. Cook was a 1935 graduate of Annapolis High School.

During World War II, he was an Army captain in the China-Burma-India Theater.

He then attended Loyola College and the University of Maryland law school and was admitted to the bar in 1950, a year before his graduation from Maryland.

On being admitted to practice, he joined the firm of Harlan, Sharretts and Pursell in Baltimore. When Edwin Harlan was appointed to the Supreme Bench, Mr. Cook joined the Towson firm that was then known as Turnbull and Brewster.

It changed names several times and in 1976 became Cook, Howard, Downes and Tracey.

He had served as secretary of the Baltimore City Bar Association in 1955 and as president of the State Bar Association in 1976 and 1977, also representing it in the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association.

From 1979 to 1987, he chaired the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 3rd Circuit, which recommends people for appointment as judges in Harford and Baltimore counties.

Elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1968, he was a charter member of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association and a former president of the Maryland Association of Defense Trial Counsel.

He was a member of the Southern Conference of Bar Presidents, the Baltimore County Bar Foundation and the Maryland Bar Foundation.

He was a life member of the American Bar Foundation.

A Mass of Christian burial for Mr. Cook was to be offered at 10 a.m. today at the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues in Towson.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Mildred Rossmann; two daughters, Margaret Steurer of Fairport, N.Y., and Elizabeth Yancey of Fallston, and six grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial contributions to Stella Maris.

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