Robert M. "Robbie" Goldman, former managing partner of the old Baltimore law firm of Frank, Bernstein, Conaway and Goldman, whose legal career spanned more than half a century, died Friday of complications of an infection at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson.
He was 98.
"The thing about Robbie Goldman was that he was a paragon of excellence. His aim was to be the best, and he ultimately succeeded," said Shale S. Stiller, a longtime friend and partner at DLA Piper US LLP.
"As a lawyer, and this is not hyperbole, he was the best real estate lawyer in Baltimore. He was generally considered a business, real estate, taxation and corporate lawyer, and his mind was razor-sharp," said Mr. Stiller.
"I can tell you that practicing law with him was a pleasure both professionally and personally," said retired Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Lawrence F. Rodowsky, who had been his law partner at Frank, Bernstein, Conaway and Goldman from 1966 to 1980, when he went on to the bench.
"He was always the complete gentleman. I considered him the firm's manager who in his quiet way kept everyone happy," recalled Judge Rodowsky. "If I had a client who needed litigation, he let me run with it and never interfered."
"He was smart and brilliant and was a dear, dear friend. He was a very empathetic person," said Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who had been a neighbor in the Rockland neighborhood of Baltimore County, and friend since 1980.
"Words are inadequate when it comes to try and describe Robbie, who was good at what he did. He was a friendly, nice-looking and highly principled person," said Mr. Palmer. "He looked upon me as a surrogate son and I looked upon him as a surrogate father. My father died when I was 10, and I learned many life lessons from Robbie."
The son of L. Edwin Goldman, a Baltimore attorney, and Rita Goldman, a homemaker, Robert Martin Goldman was born in Baltimore and raised in Fords Lane in Northwest Baltimore.
After graduating from the Park School in 1934, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1938 from the Johns Hopkins University, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate.
Mr. Goldman earned a law degree in 1941 from the University of Maryland School of Law where he was first in his class and served as editor of the law review. He was also a member of the Order of the Coif at Maryland.
After completing the Naval Reserve training program at Columbia University in 1942, the young lieutenant joined the crew of the light cruiser USS St. Louis, assigned to the Pacific Theater.
As the ship's communications officer, Mr. Goldman participated in some of the most historic battles of the Pacific, including the invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, Saipan and Tinian.
He survived the torpedoing of the St. Louis during the Battle of Kolombangara, which damaged the vessel's bow but caused no loss of life or serious casualties. During the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, the ship was attacked by kamikaze pilots that resulted in 15 crew members being killed.
Discharged in 1945, Mr. Goldman returned to Baltimore and joined his father's law firm, Nyburg, Goldman & Walter, which in 1966 merged and became Frank, Bernstein, Conaway and Goldman.
From 1966 to 1983, he was managing partner, and then of counsel from 1987 to 1992, when the firm was dissolved, and he joined DLA Piper, where he was of counsel until 2000.
"As a lawyer, he was such a comfort to his clients and his advice was never wrong," said Mr. Stiller. "First and foremost, Robbie's judgment was inferior to nobody's and because he was so incredibly intelligent, built up an enormous law practice. He was always admired for his judgment and fairness."
Mr. Stiller admired his friend's incredible modesty.
"Unlike most lawyers, he was never eager to see his name in the newspaper. The pronoun 'I' was not in his vocabulary," he said.
"He was enormously welcoming to me when I joined the firm in the early 1970s as a partner. He was generous with his time and made me feel at home," said former Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs.
"As a lawyer, Robbie was everything a lawyer should be, precise and meticulous and caring toward his clients. He had a reputation as a hard-nosed lawyer and being a tough negotiator, but I always saw and gentle and sentimental side to the man," said Mr. Sachs.
"He had been a student of my father's at Hopkins of whom he was very fond," he said. "And when I ran for attorney general in 1976, Robbie and Weezie, his wife, opened up their home and invited their friends. That was a very generous and kind thing to do."
He added: "Robbie was a credit to the bar and made you proud to be a lawyer."
In 1990, when Mr. Palmer was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, he invited Mr. Goldman and his wife to the ceremony.
"The amazing thing about him was that he was as sharp as when I first got to know him," said Mr. Palmer.
Mr. Goldman's civic work included serving as president of the Board of Jewish Family & Children's Bureau from 1956 to 1957 of which he was a member from 1946 to 1957.
In 1956, he joined the board of Associated Jewish Charities. He also served on the board of Family & Children's Division of Health & Welfare Council, and served as its chairman. From 1984 to 1986, he was a member of the Johns Hopkins Advisory Committee to the School of Arts and Sciences.
Mr. Goldman's two hobbies, which he followed passionately, were golf and photography.
Mr. Goldman won golf championships at Suburban Country Club five times, the first occurring when he was 18. "When he was in his 70s and 80s, he was still shooting his age," said Mr. Stiller.
The former Pikesville and later Rockland resident had lived at Blakehurst in recent years.
His marriage to Sally Abrams ended in divorce in 1952. In 1955, he married Rose Louise "Weezie" Thanhouser, who died in 1995.
Services for Mr. Goldman will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.
Mr. Goldman is survived by his wife of 14 years, the former Ilene Levin Shulman; a son, Richard Goldman of Columbia; a stepson, David Halle Jr. of Stevenson; a stepdaughter, Pat Halle of Ednor Gardens; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. A daughter, Liz Goldman, died in 2006. A stepdaughter, Kay Halle, died in 2014.