Dorothy Holden Thompson, a senior partner in an Easton law firm and trailblazer for other women lawyers, died Wednesday, apparently of heart failure, while visiting her daughter and son-in-law in Cary, N.C. The Easton resident was 84.
Dorothy Holden was born in Baltimore, the daughter of a greenhouse owner who, with no more than a fifth-grade education himself, wanted his five children to go as far in school as possible. She attended the Johns Hopkins University for three years after graduating from Eastern High School, and later entered the University of Maryland School of Law, one of the few law schools admitting women at the time. She became the first female student to serve as chairwoman of the school's law review and graduated first in her class in 1943.
In law school, she met her future husband, Ernest Morris Thompson of Oxford. They were married a day before he shipped out for a two-year tour of duty as a Navy officer during World War II. During his service, Mrs. Thompson clerked for Morris A. Soper, a federal appeals court judge, and practiced as an associate with firms in Baltimore and San Francisco, where she had moved to await her husband's return.
After the war, she went with her husband to the Eastern Shore, where they opened a firm with two other attorneys. She continued to practice in the firm - today called Thompson, Parker & Counts - until her death, specializing in estates and trusts. Her husband died in 1989.
Among other affiliations, Mrs. Thompson served as an officer of the Talbot County Bar Association and the Maryland Bar Association, and was the first woman appointed to the Maryland State Board of Bar Examiners. She also served as a volunteer with the auxiliary of Easton's Memorial Hospital and with the Talbot County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Easton, where she was a member.
Survivors include a daughter, Dolly Whiteside of Cary, N.C.; a sister, Lelia H. Williams of Annapolis; a brother, Leroy Schorr Holden of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.