David Blum, 57, lawyer who specialized in workers' compensation

April 23, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

David Blum, a Baltimore workers' compensation lawyer who was also legal counsel to several unions, died in his sleep Monday at his Pikesville home. He was 57.

Mr. Blum had been recuperating from recent neck surgery, said his wife of 29 years, the former Natalie Sanders. The cause of death is pending.

Mr. Blum, who was born in Baltimore and raised in Pikesville, graduated from Pikesville High School in 1966.

He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1970 from New York University and a law degree in 1973 from the University of Maryland School of Law. He was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1973, and clerked for Judge Albert W. Menchine of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

In 1975, Mr. Blum joined his father, Sidney Blum, also a workers' compensation lawyer, in his 31st-floor office at 10 Light St. in what is now the Bank of America Building.

His father, who died in 1994, began his legal career in the same building in the office of a cousin. "The Blum family have practiced law in this building since 1936," Patricia M. Graber, David Blum's legal secretary, said yesterday.

In 1979, Mr. Blum was appointed an assistant Maryland attorney general. He represented the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry for four years, until returning to Blum and Blum, his former firm.

Since 1992, Mr. Blum had been a sole practitioner, whose specialization in addition to workers' compensation law also included labor law and general plaintiff's litigation.

"He had a reputation of being wonderful to his clients," said Herbert B. Mittenthal, a partner in Erwin L. Greenberg Commercial Corp., an Owings Mill developer.

In addition to his legal work, Mr. Blum was an associate faculty member for 16 years at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, where he taught a course in occupational safety and health law until 2000.

Mr. Blum represented two painters union locals, No. 1 and No. 1473; the Independent Oil and Chemical Workers Union; Iron Workers Local No. 16; Independent Chemical Workers Union Local 976; and the Maryland Association of Correctional and Security Employees.

"His clients were distraught by his death because he was more than just an attorney to them. He accommodated them with Saturday hours, and they felt comfortable talking to him. And he always spoke at a level they could understand," said Ms. Graber. "One client who called after his death said, `He may have been short in stature, but he was a giant in everything he did.'

"He was gentle, kind and very thoughtful, and never made me get him coffee or his lunch. He didn't believe in that," she added.

"Everyone loved David. He was well-liked his entire life," said Kenny Blumberg, a friend since 1959, who met his friend for lunch two or three times a week at Werner's Restaurant on East Redwood Street.

"I figured we must have eaten more than a 1,000 lunches during the last 19 years," Mr. Blumberg said. "David was easy-going and always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He was a wonderful, sweet guy who cared about people. If you were his client, you felt his warmth."

He added: "He was a champion in what he did and believed deeply in safety for employees."

Mr. Blum enjoyed painting in oils, tending his vegetable garden, cooking and entertaining family and friends.

"He enjoyed watching the Food Channel and then going into the kitchen and making up his own recipes," his wife said.

Services were Wednesday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Andrew E. Blum of Cleveland; his mother, Shirlie R. Blum of Pikesville; and three brothers, Theodore M. Blum of Gaithersburg, Larry E. Blum of Baltimore, and Jonathan Blum of Gloucester, Mass.

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