Clinton P. Pitts

[ Age 92 ] Retired lawyer traveled West to become a cowboy and joined the Navy before becoming a law firm partner

November 28, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Clinton Paine Pitts, a retired lawyer who had chaired and later was a trustee of the Clients' Security Trust Fund, died in his sleep Wednesday at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson. He was 92.

Mr. Pitts was born in Baltimore and raised at Bryn Awel - Welsh for "Breezy Hill" - his family's turreted castle that overlooked the Gunpowder Falls in Baltimore County's Phoenix. After graduating from Gilman School in 1932, he became a cowboy out West until returning to Baltimore and earning his law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1941.

He entered practice that year with the Towson firm of Jenifer & Jenifer, but World War II interrupted his career. Enlisting in the Navy, he served in the states, working in radar.

After the war, Mr. Pitts was named a partner in what became the firm of Jenifer, Pitts & Almond until retiring in 1984. His specialties were estate and real estate law.

In 1966, Mr. Pitts chaired the state bar's trust fund, which pays claims to people who have been found by its board of trustees to have been cheated by their lawyers. Now known as the Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland, it was created by the Court of Appeals and legislature in 1965.

"He was greatly admired and played a very important and successful leadership role in the fund," said Arthur W. Machen Jr., a retired Baltimore attorney who described Mr. Pitts as "a very imposing gentleman who was friendly and always gracious."

In 1951, he was named an examiner and four years later a master in chancery for the Baltimore County Circuit Court, holding both positions until his retirement.

"He was an outstanding lawyer who was respected by both the bar and bench. As a master in chancery, he trained lots of lawyers in domestic matters," Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull said yesterday. "He was always willing to help, and all you had to do was pick up the phone and call Clinton."

He was a past president of the Baltimore County Bar Association and a member of the Maryland and United States bar associations.

An outdoorsman, he climbed the 15,000-foot Mont Blanc in France when he was 15. He began fox hunting in 1924 and continued enjoying the sport for the next 65 years. He had been master of hounds at the Elkridge Harford Hunt Club and a longtime steward at the My Lady's Manor steeplechase races. Mr. Pitts' interest in fox hunting took him to Ireland and to hunting meets on the East Coast.

"He was an ardent fox hunter who knew the country well and went out in all kinds of weather," said Charles B. Reeves Jr., a retired Baltimore attorney and longtime friend.

Mr. Pitts was an accomplished fisherman, particularly for bonefish - a pursuit that took him to such places as Alaska, South America, the Caribbean and the Christmas Islands in the South Pacific.

He was a member of the Bachelors Cotillon and Society of Colonial Wars.

His wife of 65 years, the former Mary Claire Conley, died in 2003.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday at St. James Episcopal Church, 3100 Monkton Road, where Mr. Pitts was a member.

Surviving are three sons, Clinton Paine Pitts Jr. of Canterbury, N.H., Jeffrey Larrick Pitts of Wachapreague, Va., and Henry Conley Pitts of Monkton; a daughter, Alice Lloyd Pitts Deford of Sparks; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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