Joseph I. Huesman, retired lawyer, dies at 88

Marine veteran served on ship carrying FDR

March 10, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Joseph Ignatius Huesman, a retired Towson lawyer and World War II veteran, died March 3 of a stroke at Oak Crest Village. He was 88.

Mr. Huesman, the son of a Canton Railroad shop worker and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Mount Washington.

After graduating from Loyola High School in 1939, Mr. Huesman earned a bachelor's degree in 1943 from what is now Loyola University of Maryland.

A day after graduating from college, he joined the Marine Corps.

After attending officer candidate school at Quantico, Va., he was commissioned a second lieutenant in July 1943, and was assigned to the Marine detachment aboard the heavy cruiser USS Quincy.

Mr. Huesman's ship was a unit of the naval gunfire support group that participated in the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.

In January 1945, the vessel carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his party to Malta, where the president received British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill.

Later, the president and prime minister left the Quincy and flew to Yalta for the historic wartime conference with Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

"He recalled being shocked by [the president's] medical condition and the way President Roosevelt looked," said his son, Joseph I. Huesman Jr. of Fair Haven, N.J.

When the presidential party rejoined the ship at Great Bitter Lake, Egypt, the elder Mr. Huesman told family members he recalled being an eyewitness to the state visits to the ship made by Ibn Saud, king of Saudi Arabia, King Farouk of Egypt and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.

The ship later joined the 5th and 3rd Fleets in the Pacific, and after the war ended in August 1945, Mr. Huesman was a member of the Marine detachment that went ashore in Japan as part of the occupying force.

Discharged from the Navy in 1946, Mr. Huesman entered Georgetown University, where he studied law under the GI Bill of Rights.

He began his legal career in 1948 in Washington, and moved the next year to Baltimore, where he continued his practice.

In 1950, he was recalled to active duty and served with the 1st Marine Division in Korea until 1951.

He was reassigned to the U.S. Naval Justice School in Quantico, Va., where he remained until being discharged in 1952, when he resumed his law practice.

An expert in estate law and litigation, Mr. Huesman became a founding partner in 1959 of Lerch and Huesman in what later became the Old Court Savings & Loan Building at Calvert and Redwood streets.

Among his many clients, Mr. Huesman represented and served on the board of the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad Co., and was the corporate representative of Hart Industries.

"He represented many notable family-owned businesses and their owners in Baltimore," said his daughter, Susan Huesman Mitchell, who lives in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

After the Old Court Savings and Loan banking scandal of the 1980s, Mr. Huesman relocated his firm, which since 1996 has been known as Huesman, Jones and Miles LLC, to Baltimore Avenue in Towson. "He was known for both his tenacity and utmost integrity, and vigorously represented his clients with a combination of legal skill and professionalism," said Gary Miles, a partner in the firm.

Retired Baltimore County Circuit Judge John F. Fader II recalled that Mr. Huesman had been an "excellent trial lawyer for many, many years."

"Joe appeared before me many times and on many occasions, and always did an excellent job. He very thoroughly represented his clients. He was just a good guy who went along and did his work," Judge Fader said. "And he was a great credit to the bar."

Mrs. Mitchell was so inspired by her father's career that she decided to pursue a legal career.

"I worked with him for a couple of years, and he introduced me to estate and trust work. I totally credit my dad for that, and he could write a good will," said Mrs. Mitchell, who practices law with Tunnell & Raysor P.A. in Georgetown, Del.

"He was known for his integrity. He was very aggressive in court but always cordial," she said.

Mrs. Mitchell said her father led a "very interesting but modest life.

"He always drove a thrifty car, for instance. No air conditioning and only an AM radio. He continued to drive a Pinto in the 1970s even when they were blowing up," she said, laughing.

"And when we were kids, we were so embarrassed because he mowed the grass in old suit pants. He was a true child of the Depression," she said. "There was never any pomp and circumstance about him. He was always very understated. "

Mr. Huesman preferred the company of family and friends and his golfing buddies at the Country Club of Maryland, with whom he played golf for 25 years.

He continued practicing law until he was 83, when he suffered a stroke in his office. At his death, he was of counsel at his firm.

The longtime resident of Donegal Drive in Towson had moved to the Parkville retirement community in 2005.

He was a member of the Towson Elks Club.

He was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Saturday.

In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Huesman is survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Suzanne Geraghty; three sisters, Grace Snyder of Bel Air, Mary Kropff of Baltimore and Catherine Huesman of Towson; and four grandchildren.

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