Francis J. Valle, 84, active in Democratic politics

January 06, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Francis J. Valle, a retired Orphans' Court judge who mixed a career in Democratic politics with Italian-American fraternal activity, died Wednesday of heart failure at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. He was 84 and lived in the Inner Harbor.

A lifelong Democrat, his name appeared on political ballots in the 1950s and 1960s, when he ran for Supreme Bench judge, state's attorney, comptroller and mayor.

He served two Orphans' Court terms, from 1958 to 1962 and from 1974 to 1978. He was also appointed by several Maryland governors to serve on the Workmen's Compensation Commission.

"He loved meeting people and shaking their hands," said Thomas Paul Raimondi, a cousin who lives in Lutherville. "He gave out books of matches with his name on them."

In the 1971 city primary, he ran for mayor. Mr. Valle placed third, with 4.5 percent of the vote, behind William Donald Schaefer and former city solicitor George Russell.

He also served as president of the Associated Italian American Charities and was named its 1992 man of the year.

"He had a soft spot in his heart for poor folks, people less fortune than he was," said David J. Preller, a former law associate who lives in Towson.

Born in Baltimore, he was raised in South Baltimore and lived on Ostend Street opposite the old Southern District police station. In the old neighborhood, he got into city politics by joining the Stonewall Democratic Club. He soon became a political ally of Harry "Soft Shoes" McGuirk and Jack Pollack, the veteran city Democratic boss, who tried unsuccessfully to nominate him for city state's attorney in 1962.

"I first met Judge Valle in 1947 when he was a young attorney," said retired deputy city police chief Simon J. Avara, who lives in Catonsville. "He was well-liked and always a gentleman."

He was a graduate of Loyola College, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1950 and a master's degree in 1956. He also had a law degree from George Washington University. Mr. Valle later moved to Echodale Avenue in Hamilton and joined the 3rd District Democratic Organization, where he became active in many elections.

He was an assistant to Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr. from 1948 to 1950 and an assistant city solicitor from 1950 to 1958.

During World War II he served in Army intelligence in England, France and Germany. He was state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1950.

In 1997 he married the former Cecilia Giuliani at the Vatican. Mrs. Valle survives.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church, 227 S. Exeter St., where he attended services daily.

He is also survived by two brothers, Joseph A. Valle of Severna Park and Paul A. Valle of Towson; two sisters, Michelena Valle Hudak of Towson and Lucia Valle Ucello of East Hartford, Conn.; and 27 nieces and nephews.

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