James T. Wharton, 72, law firm managing partner

April 08, 2003

James T. Wharton, a lawyer who practiced in Washington and Annapolis for 47 years, died Friday evening after his car ran off Route 8 south of Stevensville and struck a tree.

The Stevensville resident, who was 72, had a history of heart problems, which may have contributed to the accident, said his son, Michael Thomas Wharton of Baltimore.

Mr. Wharton was a founding partner of the law firm of McCarthy & Wharton in Rockville. At his death, he was managing partner of Wharton Levin Ehrmantraut & Klein in Annapolis. He was a past president of the Montgomery County Bar Association and former member of the Board of Governors of the Maryland State Bar Association.

Mr. Wharton was born in Cresson, Pa. In 1952, he graduated from Pennsylvania State University, where he was president of Sigma Nu Fraternity and the Lions Paw Honors Society. He graduated from Georgetown University's law school in 1956.

Mr. Wharton collected antique and classic cars, his son said, adding that law remained his primary interest. "Still at 72, he was a practicing lawyer, trying cases. That was his life," he said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. today at St. John Neumann Roman Catholic Church, 620 Bestgate Road in Annapolis.

In addition to his son, Mr. Wharton is survived by his wife of 20 years, the former Beverly Kecken; two daughters, Sharon Wharton Wiley of Midlothian, Va., and Maureen Wharton Phillips of North Potomac; five sons, Patrick James Wharton of Rockville, Christopher Robert Wharton of Potomac, Mark Edward Wharton of Frederick, Timothy James Wharton of Gaithersburg and James Thomas Wharton Jr. of Bethesda; and 16 grandchildren. His marriage to Sara Ann Breen ended in divorce in 1982; she died in 1989.

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