Robert T. Franklin Sr., who practiced law for three decades and was a founding partner of Franklin & Prokopik, drowned Nov. 23 while vacationing at St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Lutherville resident was 55.
Mr. Franklin and his wife of 33 years, the former Cynthia Jameson, had traveled to the Caribbean islands "to watch the University of Maryland compete in the Paradise Jam College Basketball Tournament," said a son, Daniel J. Franklin of Timonium.
The son of Robert J. Franklin, a Baltimore firefighter, and JoAnn Franklin, a homemaker, Robert Timothy Franklin Sr. was born in Baltimore and raised in Highlandtown and Parkville.
After graduating in 1976 from McDonogh School, he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1979 from Duke University, where he was a magna cum laude graduate.
"In his early years, he was employed in a variety of jobs from earning his keep as a dishwasher to working as an assistant manager at Best Products," his son said.
After earning his law degree in 1983 from the University of Maryland School of Law, Mr. Franklin began his legal career at Semmes, Bowen & Semmes, where he remained until 1999.
That year, he co-founded Franklin & Prokopik with Michael Prokopik in the Blaustein Building at 1 N. Charles St., which later moved across the street to the B&O Building.
In the intervening years, the firm eventually grew to nearly 60 attorneys with offices in seven states.
Mr. Franklin's legal expertise was wide-ranging and spanned personal injury and workers' compensation defense to trucking and transportation. He had served as general counsel to the Maryland Motor Truck Association, Restaurant Association of Maryland and the Towing and Recovery Professionals of Maryland.
Ralph L. Arnsdorf, who has been an attorney with Franklin & Prokopik since 2001, had worked earlier with Mr. Franklin at Semmes, Bowen & Semmes.
"He was an expert in the trucking industry primarily and had many clients in transportation. He created a 24-hour response team for our firm that handled the investigation of trucking accidents and caring for the driver," said Mr. Arnsdorf.
"He was a good workers' compensation attorney and did a lot of [Federal Employers Liability Act] work dealing with railroad workers. He was a corporate lawyer as well. He did a little bit of everything and was a brilliant lawyer," he said.
"He could be dogmatic and was a great salesman. He always had a passion about what he did and was very assertive about how and where this place was going to go. And whatever he did, he gave 150 percent," said Mr. Arnsdorf.
Albert B. Randall Jr. was another Semmes, Bowen & Seems alum who came to work for Mr. Franklin.
"Bob was my mentor and friend for 15 years," recalled Mr. Randall. "He was incredibly bright and had an incredible wit that he used at every opportunity. He was a great leader for the firm and had a wonderful business savvy. He was a truly remarkable man and a heck of a lawyer."
Mr. Franklin was also a much-in-demand speaker and was the author of many legal articles.
"He traveled all over the country speaking on a variety of topics," said his wife.
Since 2007, Mr. Franklin had been recognized as a "Maryland Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyers, a rating service.
"He had a powerful sense of justice, an ambitious sense of drive to protect those who could not protect themselves," his son said.
Throughout his life, Mr. Franklin was an inveterate sports fan, coach and collector of Maryland sports memorabilia with which he filled the club basement of his Lutherville home. He was a fan of the Orioles, Ravens and the Terrapins.
"In his youth, he collected sports cards, memorized statistics and rooted tirelessly for the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Colts," his son said.
"That basement collection could rival the Smithsonian and it was all organized and cataloged," said Mr. Arnsdorf. "He had tickets, uniforms, cheerleader's outfits, sneakers and even a turnstile."
He attended both Ravens Super Bowl wins, his wife said.
Mr. Franklin had also been a youth coach at Cathedral School, where he coached fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade boys basketball for nearly eight years.
"It was amazing; he coached at a school which none of his kids attended," said Stephen R. Tully, a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Seigel, Tully & Furrer who had recruited Mr. Franklin. "He was excellent with kids and the time he gave. He was a very impressive individual. It was a significant contribution of both his time and energy."
Mr. Franklin was a world traveler who had visited 39 countries and all 50 states. He spoke German and some Italian.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Baltimore Marriott Renaissance Hotel, 202 E. Pratt St.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Franklin is survived by two other sons, Robert T. Franklin Jr. of Shanghai and Gregory A. Franklin of Linthicum; and his parents, who live in Baltimore.