Joseph B. Harlan

An attorney who pushed for workers' compensation reform, he supported lacrosse as a player, a coach and an organizer.

November 17, 2008|By David Kohn | David Kohn,david.kohn@baltsun.com

Joseph B. Harlan, a prominent Baltimore attorney and lifelong supporter of lacrosse, died Thursday at Gilchrist Hospice Care after suffering from a brain tumor. He was 66.

Born in Roland Park, he graduated from Friends School. He was an excellent lacrosse player and went to the University of Maryland on an athletic scholarship. He then earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore.

Mr. Harlan began his career as a prosecutor in the organized crime division of the state's attorney's office and later worked as a deputy director of the federally funded Narcotics Strike Force.

In 1972, he went into private practice with the firm of Swerdloff, Rabineau & Murphy, and later in the firm Klein & Harlan, founded by his grandfather, Enoch Harlan. His clients included General Motors, AT&T Technologies and numerous insurance carriers.

He was regarded as a leading authority on workers' compensation. In 1983, Gov. Harry R. Hughes appointed Mr. Harlan to the Governor's Commission on Workers' Compensation Laws. He played a key role in the passage of the Workers' Compensation Reform Laws of 1986 and 1987.

He was also co-founder of the Maryland Workers' Compensation Educational Association, a co-founder of the Society of Bailiffs, and served on numerous charitable and business-related boards and committees.

Throughout his life, Mr. Harlan was involved in lacrosse. He played and coached for the Carling Lacrosse Club and its successors. During his six years as president of the United States Club Lacrosse Association, it grew from 16 Northeastern teams to more than 100 teams and associations across the country. He helped organize and finance the first USA Lacrosse Team, which played in the 1974 World Games in Melbourne, Australia.

He managed the 1978 U.S. Team and co-chaired the 1982 Lacrosse World Games at the Johns Hopkins University. He produced and announced lacrosse games on local and national radio and television. He also played squash and golf.

In 1964, he married the former Torrance Hobbs, and they had three sons. The marriage ended in divorce in 1981.

In 1983, Mr. Harlan married the former Jane Zink. The couple lived in Guilford with Mr. Harlan's sons and her two children from a previous marriage. In 2001, they moved to Baltimore County.

Jane Harlan said her husband loved to help other people. In the 1990s, he became a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and since then he had attended meetings several times a week. She said that hundreds of people had sent her husband letters thanking him for helping them with their alcohol problems. He chaired the James Ridgely Foundation Board, which supported men in recovery. He also donated blood as often as Red Cross rules allowed.

Mr. Harlan was an avid reader who especially loved biographies. He loved to write and often wrote humorous poems to commemorate birthdays and weddings of friends and family members.

In the 1990s, he began a startup health care company. In 2001, he joined the law firm DLA Piper.

Mr. Harlan was also active with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman of the Workers' Compensation Committee, as well as other committees.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Second Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, 4200 St. Paul St.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Harlan is survived by his stepmother, Loretta K. Harlan of Baltimore; two brothers, Charles W. Harlan of Baltimore and G. Michael Harlan of Taneytown; three sons, Joseph B. Harlan Jr., Eric R. Harlan and Luke E. Harlan, all of Baltimore; a stepson, Thomas F. Zink III of Baltimore; a stepdaughter, Ashley Zink McLain of Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and seven grandchildren.

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