Jesse Spector, 84, lawyer, political ally of Schaefer

October 13, 2003|By Michael Stroh | Michael Stroh,SUN STAFF

Jesse Spector, a retired Baltimore lawyer who helped launch former Gov. William Donald Schaefer's political career, died Tuesday of complications from colon cancer. He was 84 and lived in Boca Raton, Fla.

Born in South Baltimore, Mr. Spector attended Public School No. 4 and Southern High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Baltimore Law School in 1940 and his master's from the school in 1948.

He served in the Army during World War II, working on the judicial staff of the Nuremberg Trials. During the Korean War, he served in the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps, stationed at Fort Holabird in Baltimore.

In 1950, Mr. Spector made an unsuccessful run for the House of Delegates, finishing 11th out of a field of 29 candidates. One of his Democratic rivals from the 5th District was another local lawyer named William Donald Schaefer. The two men ran for the House -- and lost -- again in 1954.

Abandoning his dreams of a political career, Mr. Spector began campaigning for Mr. Schaefer, who had also earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore.

Mr. Spector became an officer in Mr. Schaefer's Democratic Club and helped him win his 1955 bid for a seat on Baltimore's City Council.

"He was always a very strong supporter," said Mr. Schaefer, who also served as mayor and is now state comptroller. "Jesse was a good friend."

Mr. Spector spent more than 40 years in private practice, handling everything from divorces to personal injury cases from an office in the 300 block of Calvert St. He served as a president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association and retired about 1990, his family said.

"He was always interested in the details of your legal case," said grandson Frank W. Spector, who also became a lawyer. "He really enjoyed the minutia."

Mr. Spector's first wife, the former Lillian Walter, died in 1977. Three years later, Mr. Spector married Dorothy Finn.

Services were held Thursday.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Spector is survived by a son, John N. Spector of Owings Mills; a daughter, Pamela Brauns of Ocean City; a stepdaughter, Barbara Bartgis of Frederick; four grandsons; and three great-grandchildren.

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