Patrick Cromwell, Baltimore lawyer and Mercy Medical Center trustee, dies

Mac Cromwell, lawyer and former chairman of the Archdiocese of Baltimore's Independent Review Board, died.

Patrick McEvoy "Mac" Cromwell, a retired lawyer and former longtime Mercy Medical Center trustee and chairman who was also the first chairman of the Archdiocese of Baltimore's Independent Review Board, died Sept. 16 of congestive heart failure at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson, where he had lived since 2010.

The former longtime Ruxton resident was 84.

"Mac was serious about his Catholic spirituality. It was unique, deep and true," said Sister Helen Amos, former president and chief executive at Mercy Medical Center, where she is executive chair of the board of trustees of Mercy Health Services. "He was just a very spiritual person."

"Mac was a pretty humble and self-effacing man, and I don't think he ever realized his impact on the Church," said Monsignor Richard W. Woy, rector of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

"I always thought that Mac was very warm and exceedingly loyal to his friends and concerned about their well-being. It was very genuine," said Richard O. Berndt, a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Gallagher, Evelius and Jones. "He was one of the most genuine individuals I've ever met and certainly one of the most talented."

The son of Michael Jenkins Cromwell Sr., chairman of the board of Loyola Federal Savings and Loan Association, and Maria McEvoy Comwell, a homemaker, Patrick McEvoy Cromwell was born in Baltimore and raised in Homeland and Riderwood.

Mr. Cromwell, who was known as "Mac" to family, friends and colleagues, attended Loyola High School for two years and graduated in 1948 from Gilman School. He was a 1952 graduate of Princeton University and served in the Army for two years until being discharged in 1954.

He earned a degree in 1957 from the University of Maryland School of Law and clerked for Chief Judge Frederick W. Brune of the state Court of Appeals. In 1958, Mr. Cromwell joined the Baltimore law firm Wright, Robertson and Dowell, which is now Wright, Constable & Skeen.

Mr. Cromwell's legal expertise was in estate planning, estate administration and trust administration. He was a partner in the firm until stepping down in 1996 and became of counsel a year later.

He retired in 2010.

"He was very warm, caring and never wore his religion on his sleeve. He did not proselytize. It just came through who he was," said Mary Alice Smolarek, law firm colleague, partner and friend of 23 years. "He was very dear to me."

"Mac had such an understanding of the U.S. Tax Code, in addition to his other duties. It really was amazing. It was both income tax and corporate tax. The whole ball of wax. He was able to bring all of the technical areas together," said Ms. Smolarek. "He could do it all."

She said that clients enjoyed working with Mr. Cromwell.

"Mac was just so charming and could really connect with clients on a personal level. His drafting was beautiful, and he could convey in documents his clients' heartfelt attitudes," said Ms. Smolarek.

In addition to his legal career, Mr. Cromwell served as a trustee of Mercy Medical Center from 1968 to 2011, and had chaired its board from 1984 to 1999.

"He had quite a record of service as a trustee and was uniquely competent. He was a tremendously wise counselor and his manner was unique because he was always paying attention," said Sister Helen.

"He never had the need to comment on everything, but by paying close attention, he was able to make incisive suggestions and decisions, and he saved us from many wrong steps. They were always true and to the point," she said.

"Our board room is named for Mac, and his portrait hangs in there," said Sister Helen.

Mr. Cromwell was the founding chairman in 1993 of the Independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Baltimore that looks into all allegations of child sexual abuse or misconduct with minors by church personnel.

"The Independent Review Board was established by then-Archbishop [William H.] Keeler, and Mac was appointed its first chairman," said Monsignor Woy.

"He was a very bright man, astute and insightful, and was the best man for the task and served very well. Mac held our feet to the fire and made us be true to what we promised people, and he wasn't afraid to speak his mind," he said.

Mr. Berndt was also a member of the review board. "He was so insightful and devoted to making the archdiocese do the right thing. He had a strong and objective relationship with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and whenever there were two views, Mac's view always prevailed," he said.

"He was one of those people as a decision maker who would say what other people were thinking but wouldn't say. He had a real strength about him," said Mr. Berndt.

Mr. Cromwell also served on the boards of St. Mary's Seminary & University and Gilman School. He also was a member of the investment committee of the Maryland Historical Society and a trustee of the Charles Crane Family Foundation, which was established by a Baltimore County real estate investor, from 1996 to 2013.

Mr. Cromwell favored tweed hats, conservative suits and ties, and it was not unusual for his eyeglasses to be firmly planted on top of his head. He also had a puckish sense of humor.

He opposed the Vietnam War and Iraq War, and he financially supported Democratic presidential candidate Sen. George S. McGovern in 1972. He was one of 17 Marylanders — including James W. Rouse and Leroy Hoffberger — who were named to President Richard M. Nixon's second White House enemies list in 1973.

"They are certainly correct in including me on the second list. But I haven't had enough opportunity to do as much damage as the Nixon administration deserves," Mr. Cromwell told The Baltimore Sun at the time. "I'm glad someone out there in the inner sanctum of the White House has correctly identified my sentiments."

In 2011, Mr. Cromwell was presented the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal by Pope Benedict XVI.

"When the Holy Father presented Mac the medal, I don't think he ever understood his impact on the Church, and I don't think he ever understood the good that he did," said Monsignor Woy.

He was an avid tennis player and a Silver Life Master at bridge, and he enjoyed reading William Shakespeare and novels by Anne Tyler.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 12 in the chapel of St. Mary's Seminary & University, 5400 Roland Ave.

Mr. Cromwell is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Ruth Gibson Morris; two sons, Patrick McEvoy Cromwell Jr. of Roland Park and Gordon Pitt Cromwell of Boston; a daughter, Elizabeth Cromwell Speers of Wilmington, Del.; a brother, M. Jenkins Cromwell Jr. of Ashland; three sisters, Maria C. Williams of Timonium, Anne C. Bieretz of Towson and Kitty F. Cromwell of Asheville, N.C.; and four grandchildren.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad