Lawrence Garten, 53, lawyer devoted to epilepsy group


Lawrence M. Garten, a real estate attorney who was devoted to pro-bono work with the Abilities Network/Epilepsy Foundation of the Chesapeake Region, died of ampullary cancer, a rare form of the disease affecting the pancreas and intestine, Saturday at his home in Lutherville. He was 53.

He was born in Baltimore and grew up in Ranchleigh and Stevenson. After graduating from the Park School in 1970, he earned a political science degree from Syracuse University in 1974.

Mr. Garten came from a family of Baltimore attorneys. He earned his law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1977 and a master's degree in taxation law from there in 1990. He served as an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore from 1980 to 1983.

He then joined the Fedder and Garten Professional Association, the Baltimore law firm founded by his grandfather Morris Fedder in 1928. Mr. Garten's two brothers, Alan and Maury Garten, and his father, Herbert Garten, also are with the firm. A managing director, Mr. Garten concentrated on real estate and business transactions and estate planning.

When Mr. Garten's son, Leete, had an epileptic seizure in 1988, Mr. Garten became deeply involved with the Epilepsy Foundation, and remained dedicated to the organization for the rest of his life. Although his son had no further seizures, Mr. Garten served on the foundation's board of directors, promoting fundraising and programming for disabled children and adults.

"He was such a supporter of me and the organization," said Lee Kingham, the executive director of the Abilities Network, who worked closely with Mr. Garten. "He was always so fair-minded and selfless. Some people involve themselves in charitable work to get recognition for themselves. That certainly wasn't the case with Larry."

While president of the Epilepsy Association of Maryland from 2001 to 2003, Mr. Garten oversaw its transformation into the Abilities Network/Epilepsy Foundation of the Chesapeake. The new organization was created to serve those with a broader range of disabilities, including autism and mental retardation.

Mr. Garten's ampullary cancer was diagnosed in July 2004. He was a private person and didn't publicize his condition, Ms. Kingham said. The diagnosis shocked family and friends, who said Mr. Garten ran marathons and was a certified scuba diver. He also excelled at mountain sports, including skiing in Aspen, Colo., and hiking.

Mr. Garten also was active in various professional organizations, including the Maryland State Bar Association, the Bar Association of Baltimore City and the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Greater Baltimore.

A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. today at the Sol Levinson & Bros. Funeral Home, 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

In addition to his father, brothers and his son, who is a resident of Syracuse, N.Y., Mr. Garten is survived by his wife of 24 years, Marquart Doty of Lutherville; another son, Stephen Garten of St. Louis; his mother, Sue Garten of Stevenson; and a sister, Ilene Garten of Baltimore.

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