Ernest A. Sciascia, a retired attorney and World War II combat veteran who was active in Northeast Baltimore community associations, died of a heart ailment Tuesday at Franklin Square Hospital Center. The Overlea-Rosedale resident was 85.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Willshire Avenue in Gardenville, he attended St. Anthony of Padua parochial school and was a 1941 Calvert Hall College High School graduate.
He became an aircraft inspector at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River before being drafted into the Army during World War II. He served in the 44th Infantry Division in France and Germany and was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman's Badge. He later attended national reunions of his old division.
After the war Mr. Sciascia returned to a Martin's job and considered becoming an engineer. Friends recommended he become a lawyer because he liked people and was a good speaker. He enrolled at the University of Baltimore and earned a law degree and a master's degree in law. He attended night school for seven years and passed the Maryland bar in 1951.
"He had an impeccable character and would offer to help before he was asked," said Sister Susan Engel, a member of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. "His role was helping people, and he did a considerable amount of pro bono work."
Mr. Sciascia worked first in the law offices of R. Samuel Jett in downtown Baltimore and later in the offices of attorney Charles E. Chlan on Belair Road. He worked on wills and estates, retiring about five years ago.
Mr. Sciascia immersed himself in Baltimore County community associations. He was a past president of the Gardenville Improvement Association, the Hazelwood Park-East Civic Assocation, the Greater Rosedale Community Council and the Optimist Club of Belair Road.
He was a longtime member, usher and greeter at the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation.
"He was the caller of numbers in our bingo games," said Sister Susan. "When the game got heated, his job was harder than serving in a court of law. He had a tremendous memory."
Friends said Mr. Sciascia was an accomplished marksman and was occasionally called up to dispose of rabbits who turned up in Northeast Baltimore gardens.
"He was a modest man who was small in stature but was tall in the community's eyes," Sister Susan said.
A Democrat, he ran unsuccessfully for a judgeship on the Baltimore County Orphans Court in 1994.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at his church, 5212 McCormick Avenue.
Survivors include his wife of 46 years, the former Mildred M. Phillips, a homemaker and former Baltimore City Police Department secretary; a daughter, Karen Butehorn; and two grandchildren.