Ronald J. Kearns, 73, longtime Essex lawyer

November 10, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Ronald James Kearns, a longtime Essex attorney who loved outdoor sports and working on home projects, died Wednesday of cancer at his home in Forest Hill. He was 73.

Mr. Kearns was born in Detroit and raised in the Inverness area of Baltimore County. He won a four-year scholarship to the Charlotte Hall Military Academy in St. Mary's County and graduated in 1948.

He enlisted in the Army, which sent him to a school in Monterey, Calif., where he studied Russian. He came back to Washington to work in Army intelligence, where his interpreting skills were used.

FOR THE RECORD - Ronald J. Kearns: An obituary for Ronald J. Kearns published in yesterday's editions incorrectly reported that services had been held. In fact, a memorial Mass will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 812 Reckord Road, Fallston. The Sun regrets the error.

After he was discharged, Mr. Kearns attended the Eastern College of Commerce and Law and the Mount Vernon School of Law (later the University of Baltimore School of Law) at night. During the day, he worked at Pemco Ceramics and later at Bendix Corp. in the purchasing department.

Mr. Kearns graduated from the Mount Vernon School of Law in 1956, the year he purchased land and a small house in Forest Hill. Though he started working for the Hunt Corp. in Carlisle, Pa., he returned to Harford County on the weekends to work on his house.

In 1962, Mr. Kearns, then a radio sales manager, met Kay Swigart, a nurse from Harrisburg, Pa. They married in 1964 and moved to Forest Hill a year later when he opened a law office in Essex.

"He didn't go into law to be a big, well-known lawyer," his wife said. "He liked the freedom of being his own boss and being free to do what he wanted to do out here on the farm."

Mr. Kearns practiced general law, handling adoptions, divorces, estates, wills and the occasional criminal charge. He was a member of the Maryland State Bar Association and the Harford County Bar Association.

Mrs. Kearns called her husband a jack-of-all-trades who was continually working on home projects. Her husband did plumbing, carpentry and masonry in the renovation and expansion of their home. She said he had just finished working on a fence when he died.

Mr. Kearns and his wife loved to travel, and he enjoyed several warm weather sports: scuba diving, golf, horseback riding and archery. He was also a member of the Harford County Ski Club.

Mr. Kearns closed his Essex office in 2001, but continued his practice from a home office. He was a member of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church in Fallston, where he served on the parish council, taught religious education and played guitar in a folk group.

He was a member of the Fallston Swim Club, the Susquehanna Beekeepers Association, the Maryland State Beekeepers Association and the Bel Air Council of the Knights of Columbus, which recently elected him as grand knight.

A memorial Mass was offered Saturday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Kristen Scala of Forest Hill, and a son, Drew Kearns of Missoula, Mont.; a brother, Gerald Kearns of Jarrettsville; and three grandchildren.

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