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Theodore J. ‘Ted’ Potthast Jr., a retired lawyer proud of his German heritage, dies – Baltimore Sun

Theodore J. “Ted” Potthast Jr., a retired attorney who had been a partner in the Towson law firm of Potthast & Schmidt and life director and former president of the German Society of Maryland, died of heart failure on August 18 at his home in the Village Green neighborhood of Riderwood. He was 91 years old.

“Ted and I had a 50-year relationship,” said Judge John F. Fader II, who retired from the Circuit Court in 2003 after serving 21 years.

“Ted was an excellent lawyer specializing in estates, trusts and sentencing, as well as other areas of law, and I was fortunate to have been his partner,” Judge Fader said. “There was no one more respected in the legal community and German society than Ted, and hundreds and hundreds of people will miss him, including me.”

Sister Virginia “Ginny” Muller, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, had known Mr. Potthast for 12 years. She was also a former provincial treasurer at Villa Assumpta, her order’s motherhouse in Baltimore County’s Woodbrook neighborhood.

“He was such a kind, generous and patient man. He had nothing too much for us to do,” she said. “Ted will always be remembered as one of SSND’s great benefactors, and we will always remember him and pray for him continually.”

Lawrence E. Schmidt was a former law partner.

“Ted was a Renaissance man and a really good, solid guy,” Mr. Schmidt said. “He was an accomplished lawyer, very respectful and always with a steady hand and a calming presence.”

Theodore Joseph Potthast Jr. was the son of Theodore J. Potthast Sr., a cabinetmaker who became president of the venerable Baltimore furniture manufacturer Potthast Brothers Inc., founded in 1892 by his father and two uncles, and Marie Corcoran Potthast, a expert researcher. and custodian of corporate records related to Potthast. Mr. Potthast Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised on Wilkens Avenue.

A graduate of St. Bernadine Parish School, Mr. Potthast entered Loyola Blakefield, where he served as sports editor for the high school newspaper, The Loyolan; captain of the debate team; and was president of the Congregation of the Holy Mother.

“Teddy and I were in the class of 1949 at Loyola. I was from Govans and he was from Wilkens Avenue,” recalls former Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. “He was very friendly, intelligent, and did well in his classes. He was a very balanced guy.

Mr. Curran and Mr. Potthast and other members of their class met every third Thursday of the month for a class lunch.

“Our ranks are slowly getting smaller and smaller, but we still meet once a month to remember what happened a long time ago,” Mr Curran said. “We still have great memories.”

As a young man, Mr Potthast worked in the family business alongside his father and uncles sketching and sketching and accompanied his father on East Coast deliveries to major customers, sources said. family members.

After graduating from Loyola High School, he entered the Jesuit Seminary in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, where he spent four years in religious studies. While continuing his Jesuit studies, he left Wernersville to attend Saint Louis University, where he majored in history and philosophy in a special branch of the university that was attended only by Jesuit seminarians.

“It was here that he continued his studies of Latin, which he could write, speak and read fluently until his death,” said one girl, Marialena “Mia” Walsh of Cromwell Valley.

After graduating from high school in 1954, he began teaching at Gonzaga High School in Washington, where he taught Latin, English, history, and religion. One of his most beloved students was Pat Buchanan, who later became President Richard M. Nixon’s speechwriter and is currently a political commentator.

“Not too long ago Pat approached Ted at a party to thank him for being so hard on him as a student,” Ms Walsh said. “It made him the leading writer he is today and gave him the ability to debate topics with fervor and force.”

After leaving teaching in 1957, Mr. Potthast worked full-time for the U.S. Department of Justice to earn tuition while simultaneously attending Georgetown University School of Law, where he graduated his degree in 1962.

“His DOJ office was at the bottom of Capitol Hill, and he often went to the Senate Chamber during breaks and sat on the balcony watching the senators,” his daughter said. “He often saw John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson walk the floor trying to coax other senators to get votes for their own special projects.”

When Robert F. Kennedy was appointed Attorney General and made prosecuting the Mafia a priority, Mr. Potthast worked for six months in his “war room”, where he helped trace the relationships between various bosses of the Mafia.

Called to the Maryland bar in 1964, Mr. Potthast joined the law firm of O’Conor and McManus in Baltimore, where he worked with former Maryland Governor and U.S. Senator Herbert R. O’Conor Jr. from the firm, he honed his skills in drafting wills and trusts and handling probate matters.

During this time, he mentored Herbert R. O’Conor III, the governor’s son, on how to handle conviction cases at a time when the city was expanding its control over Inner Harbor properties.

After a brief stint in private practice, he joined John F. Fader II, who established Potthast and Fader, a Towson law firm, and when Judge Fader was appointed to the district court in 1977, Mr. Schmidt was became his partner.

“Ted was very deliberate, and I never saw him get upset or lose his temper, no matter how difficult the case or the opposing attorney was,” Mr. Schmidt said.

When Mr. Schmidt was appointed Baltimore County Zoning Commissioner in 1991, they remained legal partners on the understanding that Mr. Potthast would not take on any zoning cases while Mr. Schmidt remained commissioner, his daughter said.

“I was a zoning commissioner for 13 years, and we eventually parted ways, and we parted ways amicably,” Mr. Schmidt said.

As one of Baltimore’s top sentencing and zoning attorneys, major clients included the School Sisters of Notre Dame and what is now St. Joseph’s Medical Center at the University of Maryland, which he represented for two decades.

In the 1980s, Mr. Potthast helped facilitate the sale of the SSND’s Villa Maria-Notch Cliff parent company in Glen Arm, which was necessary because the number of orders had dwindled. The former motherhouse has since become the Glen Meadows Retirement Community.

One of Mr Potthast’s most interesting legal challenges on behalf of the SSND occurred in 2010 when he helped sell an extremely rare Honus Wagner baseball card known as T206 which dated from 1909 and ensured that “no inheritance tax or excess money would be sacrificed,” her daughter said.

Wagner played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 to 1917, and the rare card was left to order by the brother of a nun. It was eventually sold for “$262,900 at an online auction” to Doug Walton of Knoxville, Tennessee, The Baltimore Sun reported at the time.

After a 19.5% buying bonus, the SSND Atlantic-Midwest Conference received a check for $220,000, which was to be used to aid in the work of the order’s 3,500 nuns around the world.

“It was definitely an amazing time, and I think Ted really enjoyed it,” said Sister Virginia, who is now with her order in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

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Mr. Potthast retired in 2019.

An important aspect of his life was the celebration of his German heritage – which he could trace back to the 1400s – through his active membership in the German Society of Maryland, for which he had been life director, past president and editor. in chief and writer of its newsletter. He was also the founder, supervisor and financial supporter of GermanAmericanRadio.com and a member of the Baltimore Kickers Club.

He enjoyed fishing, skiing, genealogy, and writing and editing a family newsletter, which totaled 1,200 editions during his lifetime.

A gifted poker player, he was a member of three such groups, including an elite poker group he dubbed The Clerical Game of Chance, whose members were priests and bishops of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He was also a member of another poker group drawn from the legal community and made up of judges and lawyers.

His 61-year-old wife, the former Catherine Fava, an accountant and accountant in her husband’s law firm, died in 2019.

Mr. Potthast was a longtime communicator with the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church at 200 Ware Ave. in Towson, where a Christian burial mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his sons Mark I. Potthast of Riderwood and John A. “Jack” Potthast of Gambrills; another daughter, Catherine A. “Cappy” Potthast of Catonsville; and seven grandchildren.