Lawyer George W. White Jr. and wife, Elnor L. White

November 20, 1998|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

A memorial service for George Wendell White Jr., a longtime attorney, and his wife, Elnor Louise White, an artist and volunteer, will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum Chapel, 200 E. Padonia Road, Timonium.

The Whites, who were both 83, were found dead Tuesday in their Towson home in an apparent murder-suicide, Baltimore County police said.

Mr. White, who retired in September from the Towson law firm of White, Miller, Kenny & Vettori, had suffered from bouts of depression in recent months, according to Jay Miller, a law partner.

"At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest practicing trial lawyer in Maryland," Mr. Miller said.

A highly respected personal injury lawyer, Mr. White began his legal career with Weinberg & Green in Baltimore in 1944. In 1946, he and others established the firm of Buckmaster, White, Mindel & Clarke.

The firm moved to Towson in 1951, the first large firm to relocate from the city to the seat of county government.

Mr. White "was one of the foremost trial lawyers in the whole

state of Maryland," said Judge John G. Turnbull III, administrative judge of the Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Judge Turnbull described him as a "quiet and somewhat reserved man" with an "excellent sense of humor that he didn't hesitate to use to further a case."

He said Mr. White was "zealous in the pursuit of what was right" and a "stickler and extremely reverent of courtroom protocol."

"He was one of the most honest men I've ever known," said longtime friend and personal attorney Shale Stiller, a partner in the Baltimore firm of Piper & Marbury.

"He had good instincts for whether a witness was lying or telling the truth, and if he discovered someone was a phony, he'd tear them to pieces."

"He was very much the common man in the best sense of the word," Mr. Stiller said. "He could relate to juries and he loved talking to them. And it was not an act. He never thought of himself or acted high and mighty. It was part of his skill as both an attorney and human being."

Mr. White was a former law partner of Spiro T. Agnew and represented him when he was Baltimore County executive. He was chairman of Mr. Agnew's 1968 vice presidential campaign.

Mr. White declined a move to Washington when Mr. Agnew took office. In 1973, Mr. Agnew, accused of accepting bribes, pleaded no contest to one count of federal income tax evasion and resigned his office.

"Friends say the greatest disappointment of his life was when he learned that Agnew had breached the public trust by taking bribes," Mr. Miller said.

Mr. White and Mr. Agnew became further estranged when in his book "Go Quietly Or Else," Mr. Agnew suggested that Mr. White had been involved in criminal activity. Mr. White filed a $17 million defamation suit against him.

"He won that suit and forced all the books to be removed from the shelves and stricken from the registry of the Library of Congress. He later received a letter of apology from Agnew that was kept by him as one of his most prized possessions," Mr. Miller said.

Mr. White was a past president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers' Association, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He was a former High Chancellor of Gamma Eta Gamma Legal Fraternity.

He was born in Mount Washington and earned a bachelor's degree from Duke University in 1937 and a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1939. During World War II, he served in Army Intelligence.

His wife, the former Elnor Louise Musson, also was born in Mount Washington and graduated from Western High School. The childhood sweethearts were married in 1937.

"Mrs. White preferred being a homemaker and staying in the background," Mr. Miller said.

She enjoyed painting portraits in oils and crocheting, and bought and sold antiques.

She sold some of her handiwork at the Robert Morris Inn in Oxford, which is owned by a daughter and son-in-law, Wendy and Ken Gibson, and decorated many of the inn's rooms.

Mrs. White volunteered at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Hampton National Historic Site and the Children's Aid Society.

The Whites are survived by a son, Randy White of Kansas City, Mo; another daughter, Cindy White of Clearwater, Fla.; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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