Judge Edward Dorsey Ellis Rollins Jr., who served for 19 years on the Cecil County Circuit Court, died Thursday after a yearlong struggle with lung cancer. He was 73.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Elkton, he was a 1950 graduate of Archmere Academy near Wilmington, Del. He attended Loyola College and earned a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1956.
Mr. Rollins met his wife, Mary Lois Lee Rollins, on a blind date while he was in law school and she was a nurse in Baltimore. The couple married in 1955. After Mr. Rollins graduated from law school they moved back to Elkton. Mrs. Rollins died in 2000.
In Elkton. Mr. Rollins practiced law with his father, Edward D.E. Rollins Sr., who had served from 1952 to 1954 as state attorney general. The father-son partnership ended when the elder Mr. Rollins was appointed to the Cecil County Circuit Court in 1957.
After his father became a judge, Mr. Rollins sometimes tried cases in his father's courtroom, a practice that was unavoidable since at the time there was only one Circuit Court judge in Cecil County.
In the courtroom, Mr. Rollins was known as a masterful litigator. He was one of the first Maryland attorneys to successfully argue temporary insanity as a murder defense.
"Others lawyers would stop and watch him in the courtroom," said his son Edward Dorsey Ellis Rollins III, also an Elkton lawyer. "He was the ultimate country lawyer."
Mr. Rollins was active in the local Republican Party. He ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 1962.
Mr. Rollins briefly practiced law with his son until he, like his father, was named to the Cecil County court in 1983. Gov. Harry R. Hughes made the appointment.
"It was unusual that a Democratic governor would appoint a Republican to the bench," said his son. "Dad had such a good reputation that it must have been an easy call for Hughes."
Mr. Rollins retired from the bench in 2002.
A memorial service will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at Singerly Fire Hall, 300 Newark Ave. in Elkton. Funeral services are private.
In addition to his son, survivors include two other sons, Stephen Brooke Rollins of Newark, Del., and Frank K. Rollins of Elkton; three daughters, Tracey L. Williams of Elkton, Paige R. Blanchat of Hickory, N.C., and Lisa A. Rollins of Sofia, Bulgaria; 29 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.