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News Obituaries

Abraham Dash, Air Force Ret. and federal attorney

Abraham Dash, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and federal attorney who taught at the University of Maryland school of law from 1970 until his death, died Jan. 12 of a heart attack at his home in Bowie. He was 86.

News of his death prompted an outpouring from former students and colleagues, who posted online dozens of tributes to his teaching, counsel and courtly spirit.

"There's little if anything left unsaid about Abe. And yet anyone who knew him would want to be a part of these acts of remembrance," wrote a law school colleague, Gordon Young. "In the midst of so many of his contributions to our school and the profession, it is his kindness, sweetness, and community-spirit that especially make him the unique colleague and mentor that he was to all of us."

His patience was as remarkable as his career, said his wife of 22 years, Mary Catherine Dash.

"He never once lost his temper with anyone," she said.

Born in Camden, N.J., Mr. Dash graduated from high school in Philadelphia in 1945. Both parents emigrated from Russia as children, and he was one of six siblings.

A brother, Ray Dash, said his three older brothers were known as the "three musketeers" in their youth, and remained close, even as two went onto high-profile careers in law. Samuel Dash, who died in 2004, served as chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee, which conducted the investigations that led to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation.

"They supported each other," Ray Dash said. "There was never any rivalry."

Mr. Dash, who researched the Civil War and Napoleon, as a 12-year-old, wanted to be a pilot and enlisted at 17, receiving a fleet appointment to the Naval Academy. When the Navy stopped training pilots, he followed his two older brothers into the Air Force, serving as a pilot during the Korean War. Ray Dash said his brother found his initial assignments in Korea "boring," and volunteered for a riskier role in a squadron that ran bombing missions.

In April 1952, Mr. Dash was the sole survivor when his plane was shot down as it flew over enemy territory. To avoid capture, he steered into Wonsan Harbor, where he was rescued by a nearby American ship. The highly decorated Mr. Dash left active duty in 1955, but continued to serve in the reserves as part of the Judge Advocate General's Corps, retiring in 1987.

"The thing about Abe was that he always had this adventurousness. He was not going to live an ordinary life," said Ray Dash, adding that his brother rarely spoke of his time in the war.

Mr. Dash received a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska in 1957 and a J.D. in 1959 from Georgetown University, completing the program on an accelerated timeline while working and supporting a young family. As an attorney, he held positions on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the National Labor Relations Board, the Department of Justice — where he was director of litigation in the criminal division — and as deputy chief counsel to the comptroller of the currency.

In 1970, Mr. Dash became a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. He was a founder of the school's National Trial Team and adviser to the Moot Court Board and PAD Legal Fraternity. He engaged his classes with funny stories from his years in practice. Students from his 300-plus-person courses in administrative law, criminal procedure and ethics included many of the state's attorneys and judges.

In a 2005 tribute when Mr. Dash retired, Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Lynne Battaglia recalled that he "embraced a teaching style that was both supportive and collaborative."

"He forever reflects an inspiring openness to a myriad of ideas and theories and is always thoroughly prepared into any situation or discussion with both feet," she said.

As professor emeritus, Mr. Dash continued to teach, and was preparing papers for a spring semester class at the time of his death.

Asked once why he didn't slow down, his brother said, Mr. Dash responded: "Why should I do that when I love what I'm doing? I can't imagine anything better than what I'm doing now."

A funeral service is planned for 10:30 a.m. today at the Robert E. Evans Funeral Home in Bowie.

In addition to his wife and brother, Mr. Dash is survived by a son, Franklin Dash; a stepson, Gregory Dash; two stepdaughters, Judith Robson and Susan Gaffney; a sister, Ruth Hecht; two grandchildren and one step-grandchild. His first wife, Barbara Crissey Dash, whom he married in 1953, died in 1985.

nsherman@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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