LeRoy Robert Evans, 72, prosecutor, general in Md. National Guard

January 24, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

LeRoy Robert Evans, a former Baltimore County prosecutor who also had been commanding general of the 58th Infantry Brigade of the Maryland Army National Guard, died Friday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center from complications of cancer. He was 72.

Acknowledged as perhaps one of the most outstanding prosecutors in Baltimore County, Mr. Evans earned a reputation for toughness and tirelessness during his years as deputy state's attorney from 1967 to 1972.

"He was my mentor in the state's attorney's office," Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger said yesterday.

"He was a very unique man who spoke several languages and had a very high degree of integrity. He helped train me for trial work and always said, `The job of a prosecutor is to seek justice, not just win your case.' He was both tenacious and brilliant, and could quote cases and references from memory. He was just tremendous."

"In all those years I worked for him, we never had a losing case in court," said Frank Alessi, a private investigator. "We were kind of proud of that."

In a 1971 News American interview, Mr. Evans explained his definition of the law: "Law is the skeleton on which the fabric of a civilized society is stretched. ... And I love it."

In 1973, Gov. Marvin Mandel appointed Mr. Evans to head the state Drug Abuse Administration. During his two years there, he was credited with setting up its first comprehensive drug abuse program and establishing minimal training standards for drug-abuse counselors.

He left the agency to form the Towson law firm of Evans, Kohler and George, where he was chief operations officer. In 1995, he retired as senior partner at Evans, George and Bronstein.

Mr. Evans also had a successful military career. In 1954, he joined the Maryland National Guard as a warrant officer and was a member of the 29th Division at the 5th Regiment Armory. His Guard unit was called out during racial unrest in Cambridge in 1963, in Baltimore after the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and at the University of Maryland in College Park during student disturbances in the early 1970s.

He commanded the 58th Infantry Brigade, a unit of about 4,500 troops, from 1979 until 1984, and retired as a major general.

"He was a rare combination of a military commander, scholarly lawyer and classical musician and was one of the most versatile and engaging intellects I've ever known," said Philip Sherman, a retired Maryland National Guard brigadier general and Baltimore attorney. "He knew how to speak to juries, judges and his fellow attorneys. He was a great storyteller, and that's what made him good before juries. He was an amazing talent."

Mr. Evans was born in Baltimore, the son of LeRoy F. Evans, a concert pianist and faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and Naomi Brightfield, a sculptor and theater director.

He did not earn a high school diploma, advancing to the University of Maryland from the 11th grade at the Polytechnic Institute.

He served in the Army in 1946 and 1947, then returned to UM, graduating with a bachelor's degree in prelaw and economics in 1950.

He received his law degree from the University of Maryland in 1953, but was already a lawyer, having passed the bar exam in his second year of law school. From 1954 to 1967, he was in private practice.

He was fluent in German, Yiddish, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

He was a talented violinist despite having lost the tips of the fingers of his left hand at 16 when a shotgun exploded in his hands. His repertoire ranged from Paganini to bluegrass.

Mr. Evans was a cabinetmaker and waterfowl hunter.

His 1951 marriage to Grace Masters ended in divorce.

He was a member of St. Leo Roman Catholic Church, Stiles and Exeter streets, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

He is survived by his wife of 15 years, the former Mary Petro Dudley; two daughters, Kathryn Evans-Knoblock of Gaithersburg and Suzanne A. Evans of Parkton; a stepson, C. Bradley Dudley of Towson; and two grandchildren.

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