Donald Arnold Krach

Donald Arnold Krach ( )

Donald A. Krach, former general counsel for the Maryland Port Administration who was an advocate and goodwill ambassador for the port of Baltimore, died May 4 of complications from pancreatic cancer at his Timonium home. He was 80.

"Don was a real cheerleader for our port, and he really worked hard with our clients to put more business through here," said James J. White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration. "He had such a big personality."

"Don was one of those attorneys who came up through the state system, and he was absolutely enthusiastic about the port. He was an able and very decent guy," said Helen Delich Bentley, the former congresswoman and chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission.

"He loved the port and hated when he had to retire because of health reasons. His heart was always there," said Mrs. Bentley.

The son of a laborer and a homemaker, Donald Arnold Krach was born at home in Hamilton. When he was 2, his mother died, and he was raised by his grandparents, who were farmers.

When he was 12, he worked delivering ice to homes and performed other odd jobs. After graduating from City College in 1951, he enlisted in the Army and served with occupation forces in Japan.

He later served as an embassy guard and was in military intelligence during the Korean War. After graduating from officer's candidate school, he was commissioned and taught military intelligence techniques at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Discharged in 1961, he enrolled at the University of Maryland, where he studied law on the G.I. Bill of Rights and earned his law degree in 1962.

While in law school, Mr. Krach supported himself working as a laborer, a Maryland Detention Center guard and court clerk for both city and U.S. District courts. After completing law school, Mr. Krach clerked for U.S. District Judge W. Calvin Chestnut.

He began his legal career in the early 1960s when he joined the law firm of Niles, Barton & Wilmer, where he practiced maritime and commercial law until 1987. That year, he became a Maryland assistant attorney general, working for Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. as general counsel to the Maryland Port Administration.

"Don was a genuine asset to my administration and an outstanding lawyer. He was both a good lawyer and a well-liked person, which is a good combination," said Mr. Curran.

Herbert J. Belgrad, partner at the Baltimore law firm of Tydings and Rosenberg and former chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, attended law school with Mr. Krach, and remained close friends with him for more than 50 years.

"Professionally, Don practiced maritime law, and he loved what he was doing," said Mr. Belgrad. "And because of the way he handled himself, he had the respect of the maritime bar."

He described Mr. Krach as a "very intense person who was always prepared and so involved in his cases."

"No matter what side Don was on in court, you always heard favorable comments about him whether he won or lost a case. He started a case as a professional and finished a case as a professional," said Mr. Belgrad. "And when he won a case, you had to respect how he had won."

"He was an attorney who knew the criteria and how to sell the port. He embraced the competitive challenge of other ports," said Mr. White. "Without Don, we wouldn't be where we are today."

Mr. Krach was appointed general counsel in 2001 for the North Atlantic Ports Association Inc., an organization that promotes the interests of East Coast port operators.

Mr. Krach was known for his outgoing and amiable demeanor.

"He enjoyed showcasing the city of Baltimore," said a son, Thomas Matthew Krach of Frederick. "Every chance he had, he talked about the port and the city."

"He knew the history of the port and had such a wealth of knowledge," said Mr. White. "Even though he had retired, he'd still come back and give harbor tours to customers and manufacturers."

"During his career, Don got to know a number of leaders in the maritime industry, and wherever he went, he retained those professional relationships," said Mr. Belgrad.

After retiring in 2006, the longtime Pot Spring Road resident volunteered at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. He was a member of the American Legion in Parkville and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He also had worked as a movie extra and appeared in "The Seduction of Joe Tynan," "Avalon" and "Tin Men."

Mr. Krach was an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoyed spending weekends at an Ocean City condominium on 85th Street that he and his wife of 52 years, the former Carolyn Archbald, owned.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Epiphany Episcopal Church, 2216 Pot Spring Road, Timonium.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Krach is survived by another son, Robert Williams Krach of Timonium; and five grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com