Joseph A. Miklasz, a trial attorney who practiced in Glen Burnie and was a wine collector, died of cancer Sunday at Stella Maris Hospice. He was 71 and lived in Crownsville.
Born in Baltimore, he was raised in Severn and in East Baltimore, where he lived with an aunt on Gough Street. His father, Joseph Miklasz, owned a combined grocery store, post office and filling station in Severn. His mother, Marie "Mamie" Miklasz, ran the operation.
After attending St. Michael's School in Butchers Hill, he was a 1960 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School, where he wrestled. He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Miami and earned a law degree at the University of Baltimore. From 1963 to 1965, he served in the Peace Corps in Liberia.
"As a young man, he considered entering the priesthood," said A. Harold "Pit" DuBois, an attorney and close friend. "But he did some research and found out about a vow of poverty and wondered what he would do with his Porsche."
Mr. Miklasz founded a private legal practice on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie. He handled civil litigation, personal injury and malpractice cases.
"He championed the cause of his clients," said his wife, the former Hanan Rasheed Mohsin, who is also an attorney. "And his favorite client was a hardworking, everyday person."
His legal colleague, Mr. DuBois, described Mr. Miklasz as "a one-of-a-kind person who did it his way."
He recalled a time when he assembled the extended family of a plaintiff and held an informal prayer service before the judge and jury.
"Whatever he did, he did with enthusiasm and integrity," Mr. DuBois said. "He had a sense of compassion for his family and for his clients, as well. He just liked doing good for people. His clients remained his friends for a lifetime, and he was committed to them."
He also was a partner in the Mountain Branch Golf Course in Joppa.
He also owned a 150-acre family farm, St. Francis Orchard, on Disney Road in Severn. He operated the farm with a nephew, Jerry Glodek, who tended the place in his spare time.
They initially grew tobacco and later changed to apples and peaches and then to lavender, peonies and irises. They sold plants and cut flowers at the Annapolis Farmers' Market and at the Catonsville, Arbutus and Laurel spring flower festivals.
"He loved growing things, and he followed in the footsteps of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson," Mr. Glodek said. "If he could have, he would have followed an agrarian lifestyle full time."
Mr, Glodek said his uncle would not allow animals to be killed. He protected groundhogs, foxes and deer.
"Once I told him that deer had eaten $1,200 worth of apple saplings," Mr. Glodek said. "He told me to go out and buy more trees."
He was also watchful of hunters who trespassed on his property.
Late last year, Mr. Miklasz sold the property to Toll Brothers and the site is being developed as Arundel Forest.
Mr. Miklasz, who loved nature, also kept a large vegetable garden. He was a subscriber to Center Stage and remained a devoted Miami Hurricanes fan.
Mr. Miklasz collected rare and unusual wines and bought wine futures. More than 30 years ago while on a trip to France, he traced the vineyards visited by Thomas Jefferson in 1787.
He was a past president of the Maryland Association of Justice, the Glen Burnie Kiwanis Club, the St. Thomas More Society and the Anne Arundel Bar Association.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at noon Friday at Our Lady of the Fields Roman Catholic Church, 1070 Cecil Ave. South in Millersville.
In addition to his nephew, survivors include his wife of nearly 27 years; two sons, Jozef Miklasz and Zane Miklasz, both of Crownsville; and a sister, Mary Ann Macaluso of Severn.