William Hegarty Jr., 75, partner in Towson law firm

September 11, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William A. Hegarty Jr., a retired partner in a Towson law firm who was known for his meticulous courtroom appearance and expertly prepared cases, was found dead Saturday at his home in Ocean City. He was 75.

Mr. Hegarty, a former longtime Homeland resident, had been suffering from heart problems in recent years, family members said.

For more than 20 years, until starting his own firm in Towson in the 1970s, he was a partner in the firm of O'Doherty, Gallagher, Hegarty and Coughlin.

A trial lawyer, Mr. Hegarty's expertise was in the field of product liability and motor vehicle cases. He retired in the late 1980s.

"He was a fine old Irishman and a highly respected attorney. He was so totally credible that whatever he said, juries accepted without question. Some of the verdicts he got in his cases I'm still trying to figure out how he did it," said Jack McGarvey, a former partner who is now assistant general counsel for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

A stylish dresser who favored the Ivy League look, Mr. Hegarty made quite an appearance when in court.

"A very personable man, he was very methodical in his delivery and always made sure that his case was heard and understood in the courtroom and that the outcome was fair to his client," said Mr. McGarvey.

Mr. Hegarty was born and raised in Cheltenham, a suburb of Philadelphia, and earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University in 1948. He moved to Baltimore in the late 1940s and graduated from the University of Maryland Law School in 1953.

Admitted to the Maryland Bar that year, he began practicing law as an attorney for the Baltimore Transit Co. and was named chief assistant city solicitor for Baltimore in 1959 - a position he held for several years.

"He always wanted to be a lawyer and worked while putting himself through law school," said a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Swift of Yorklyn, Del.

He was a member of the Maryland and American bar associations.

Mr. Hegarty had maintained a summer home in Ocean City for years, and made the resort his permanent home in 1995.

"He loved Ocean City. I've never met anyone who loved Ocean City the way he did. I used to tell him that he ought to go to work for the Chamber of Commerce," said Mr. McGarvey.

Mr. Hegarty was married in 1955 to Jeanne M. Lipp, who died in 1994.

While living in Homeland, he had been a communicant of St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 5500 York Road in Govans, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Mr. Hegarty also is survived by three sons, William A. Hegarty III of the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County, John S. Hegarty of Seattle and Patrick T. Hegarty of Ocean City; another daughter, Jeanne Hegarty of Baltimore; a sister, Helene Keane of New Hope, Pa.; and six grandchildren.

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