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John W. Moyer Sr.

Seasoned defense attorney also owned a Parkville travel agency

By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

6:42 PM EDT, September 27, 2011

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John W. Moyer Sr., a retired Towson criminal defense lawyer who enjoyed coaching youth sports, died of pneumonia Sept. 17 at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.

The former Long Green Valley resident was 84.

The son of the manager of the Wagner Electric Co. and a homemaker, John W. Moyer Sr. was born in Baltimore and raised in Overlea.

After graduating from Kenwood High School in 1945, he briefly served in the Navy at the Memphis, Tenn., and Jacksonville, Fla., naval stations.

He entered the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1951. He received a law degree from the University of Baltimore Law School in 1954.

A criminal defense and trial attorney, Mr. Moyer practiced law for nearly 40 years at Moyer & Moyer on Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson. He was a partner in the Towson law firm in 1962, when he was named an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore County, a position he held until resigning two years later to return to private practice.

"I can still see that chubby little rascal coming into my courtroom. He was effervescent and the happiest guy you'd ever want to see. He always came into court with a big smile on his face," said retired Baltimore County Circuit Judge John F. Fader II.

"He was a delight and always represented his clients to the fullest extent. He was extremely energetic," Judge Fader said. "When he stood in front of the bench, he looked like Atticus Finch and talked to you like a bartender. He was a pleasure to be with."

Court of Appeals Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr. also was a longtime friend and colleague.

"John was a real fine lawyer and always represented his clients with skill. And as an officer of the court, he represented civility and professionalism. He represented a time when those virtues were more prevalent than they are today," Judge Murphy said.

"As a defense attorney, I always admired how he handled himself and represented his clients. He always had the right touch. He knew when to press and put the pedal to the metal, and knew when to put on the brakes," he said.

"A wonderful guy," said former Baltimore County Executive and Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr. "In many ways, John was a country lawyer. His clients became his personal friends, and that's how he treated and argued on behalf for them," Mr. Smith said. "He was a well-liked and personable man."

Melissa Moyer Adams, Mr. Moyer's daughter, was his law partner for 14 years.

"He influenced me to be a lawyer. I used to go to his office to work on my papers. I was always very proud of my dad that he was able to help clients and still had fun," said Ms. Adams, who lives in Overlea.

"He gave me a love for the law, and we both shared the passion for it. He'd always go the extra mile for the client. If he felt they could benefit from counseling, drug or domestic, he'd get it for them. He loved people and brought out the best in them," she said.

Ms. Adams said her father was "generous and did quite a lot of pro bono work."

"If a person needed help, he'd do it. He cared about his clients. Many would stop by to say 'Hi' or call to let him know how their lives had been changed," she said. "He had a big heart."

In addition to his legal career, Mr. Moyer owned Baltimore County Travel in the 8200 block of Harford Road in Parkville for 25 years.

Besides law, family members said, Mr. Moyer's "greatest passion" was coaching football, basketball and baseball for the Perry Hall Recreation Council Little League.

Known as "Mr. John," Mr. Moyer coached boys from the age of 6 through late adolescence.

""There is probably not a young man today who grew up during this era and played sports and Little League that would not remember 'Mr. John,'" said a son, John W. Moyer Jr. of Overlea.

"They most likely remember him not only as their coach but also a second father — not any father's replacement, but a welcome addition to a boy's dream of making it in the big leagues someday and or just playing for the love of the game," he said.

In recognition of his years of coaching, he was inducted into the Perry Hall Recreation Council Hall of Fame in the 1990s.

For the last several years, Mr. Moyer lived at a son's Bel Air home. He was a longtime member of Long Green Baptist Church in Hydes, where services were held Sept. 24.

Also surviving are his wife of 59 years, the former Patricia Eisenhauer; two other sons, Timothy Moyer of Carney and David Moyer of Bel Air; 12 grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com