Charles E. Jones, 90, business lawyer, counsel to four Baltimore archbishops

April 19, 1999|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

Charles Edward "Eddie" Jones, a noted Baltimore real estate and business lawyer and retired partner in the law firm of Gallagher, Evelius & Jones, died of cancer Friday at Stella Maris Nursing Care Center in Timonium. He was 90.

During a career that spanned seven decades, he provided counsel to four Baltimore archbishops and many Baltimore business leaders, including homebuilder Henry J. Knott Sr.

He also supported a wide range of archdiocesan causes, including funding for the portraits of Archbishop William D. Borders and Cardinal William H. Keeler that hang in the cardinal's residence in Baltimore and refurbishing a Vatican apartment suite in memory of Cardinal Lawrence Shehan.

"His deep faith and thorough grasp of the principles of life made him an outstanding counselor," said Cardinal Keeler, the archbishop of Baltimore. "His warm and ready wit and constant thoughtfulness endeared him to others."

At Gallagher, Evelius & Jones, colleagues say, he was loved and admired for his energy and generosity, but also respected for hard-nosed negotiating and carefulness.

"If you had Eddie Jones as your lawyer, you had a truly effective advocate on your side," said Richard O. Berndt, managing partner of the firm, which will continue to bear Mr. Jones' name. "He was a model for us all."

Born and raised in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Jones at 13 was sent by his parents to live with a wealthy aunt and uncle, who set about "educating him to the niceties of life," as he once put it. Until his death, he kept the first book his aunt gave him, "Operas Every Child Should Know," with her notations.

In 1923, the aunt and uncle enrolled him at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore, where they believed he would receive a good education from the Xaverian Brothers. He graduated second in his class in 1926 and was a generous alumnus throughout his life. In 1972, he received the school's Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Jones worked as a clerk for a title attorney while attending the University of Baltimore School of Law at night. He graduated and passed the bar exam in 1929, but had to wait another year -- until he was 21 -- to be admitted. In 1931, he formed the law firm of Wyatt & Jones with his friend Joseph M. Wyatt, and they practiced together until 1971.

During World War II, Mr. Jones served in the Coast Guard and attained the rank of lieutenant commander. After the war, he represented Henry Knott's brick contracting business and worked with the builder on strategies to meet the postwar housing demand. They closed the first Federal Housing Administration loan in Maryland and went on to build thousands of houses with federal financing.

His work with Catholic institutions included Mount St. Mary's College and Seminary in Emmitsburg. The college awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1967 and its President's Medal in 1980.

In 1972, at age 64, he joined the law firm established by Francis X. Gallagher and John C. Evelius. Mr. Jones said he had the idea of retiring "in a few years," but 22 years passed before he stopped going to his office on a daily basis.

In 1978, he formed the Roman Catholic Foundation in the Archdiocese of Baltimore Inc. to provide Baltimore's archbishops with discretionary funds to meet unbudgeted charitable needs.

An outdoorsman, he spent spring and summer weekends on the Chesapeake Bay aboard his custom-built 45-foot cruiser, Freedom Too.

From the late 1940s to the mid-1970s, he owned the Freedom Inn restaurant off Erdman Avenue. He attended every Baltimore Colts game at Memorial Stadium, leaving in the morning with a bus full of friends and ending the day with dancing and dinner at Greenspring Inn -- where he and his wife, the former Margaret Barry, had been regulars since the 1940s.

They were married in 1934. When she died of cancer in 1991, Mr. Jones said it was "the only truly bad thing" that ever happened to him.

Mr. Jones is survived by a cousin, Henry McDermott of Virginia Beach, Va.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Chapel at Stella Maris, 2300 Dulaney Valley Road. Mr. Jones requested that donations be made to the Roman Catholic Foundation in the Archdiocese of Baltimore Inc., in care of Monsignor W. Francis Malooly, 320 Cathedral St., Baltimore 21202.

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