Frank R. Weathersbee, the longtime Anne Arundel County state's attorney who championed the rights of victims and was a member of the state Parole Commission, died Tuesday at his Crownsville home of complications from congestive heart failure. He was 71.
The son of Frank B. Weathersbee, a Navy Department official, and Margaret Hutton Weathersbee, a homemaker, Frank Raymond Weathersbee was born in Washington and raised in Wheaton, where he graduated from Wheaton High School in 1962.
He earned a bachelor's degree in zoology in 1965 from the University of Maryland, College Park and his law degree in 1969 from the University of Maryland School of Law.
He served as an assistant state's attorney for Anne Arundel County from 1969 to 1977, when he was named deputy state's attorney, a position he held until 1988, when he became state's attorney.
"He was honest to a fault," said Trevor Kiessling, a former assistant state's attorney who served for more than 20 years with Mr. Weathersbee. "He believed there was a duty and obligation for a prosecutor to see that justice was done."
Mr. Weathersbee, a Democrat, won re-election six times, though he was often reluctant to give public talks, said Kristin Fleckenstein, who worked 20 years as spokeswoman for his office.
"I'd almost have to push him to do a press conference or a press release," she said. "It just wasn't his style."
Instead, he expanded resources for victims of domestic violence and transformed a drug diversion program in the county into today's successful drug court. That program provides supervision and services to help addicts stay clean.
"He has changed countless lives of people who don't even know him," Ms. Fleckenstein said.
His work on domestic violence and victims' rights proved a model for other jurisdictions, said current State's Attorney Wes Adams.
His office employs victim witness advocates who serve as liaisons between prosecutors and witnesses, something that wouldn't have occurred without Mr. Weathersbee.
"His imprint was clearly left on the office I inherited," Mr. Adams said.
Mr. Weathersbee's high-profile cases were numerous and included the conviction of Scotland Williams, in which the defendant's shoe print in the home of two slain lawyers near Annapolis was key to convincing a jury he was guilty. Williams was sentenced to life without parole plus 70 years in prison in 1998.
Mr. Weathersbee's office was also involved in the prosecution of former Northeast High School teacher Ronald Walter Price, whose sexual abuse of students gained national attention. Price was sentenced to 26 years in prison in 1993.
Mr. Weathersbee won numerous awards for his work with victims.
"He made sure victims always came first and that their voices were being heard," Ms. Fleckenstein said.
After retiring as state's attorney in 2013, he was appointed to the Maryland Parole Commission that year by Gov. Martin O'Malley, and was serving as a commissioner at his death.
Mr. Weathersbee was a world traveler and particularly liked to journey by ship. He also had visited all 50 state capitals, said his wife of 29 years, the former Patricia Harcum.
He also enjoyed building model airplanes, and his collection was more than 50 years old, his wife said. He was an avid Redskins fan.
A celebration of Mr. Weathersbee's life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the ceremonial courtroom in the Anne Arundel County Courthouse, 8 Church Circle, Annapolis.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Weathersbee is survived by two daughters, Camela Weathersbee of Ellicott City and Lara Weathersbee of Columbia; two stepdaughters, JoAnna George of Elkton and Brianna Harcum of Annapolis; a brother, Gary Weathersbee of Rockville; a sister, Marla Bowser of Ijamsville; and eight grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.