Making his case

Making his case
Indiana native Terry Nolan, who has replaced his wife, Patti Sue, as president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, is shown inside the his law office on Oregon Avenue in Arbutus on Jan 16. (Staff photo by Brian Krista, Patuxent Publishing)

Terry Nolan doesn't look or act like an average lawyer. He has a handlebar mustache, rides a 1983 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle and brings his fluffy, white bichon frise with him to work at his cluttered Arbutus law office on Oregon Avenue.

He likes to think of himself as a man of ideas and said he lives by the Robert F. Kennedy quote, "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things as they never were and say, why not?"


Patti Sue Nolan said her 60-year-old husbandcan be best described as an, "unconventional, outside-the-box kind of guy."

He's not the clean-cut, suit-wearing type one might expect of someone in the profession.

A paralegal at her husband's law office, Patti Sue Nolan said he can be perceived by some in the community as "gruff." But, she said, "helping the community is where his heart is.

"He believes in community service," she said. "It's not always about the almighty dollar. It's about giving back."

The couple has been married for 18 years. They've raised three children together and live in Lutherville with their youngest child.

Nolan has practiced criminal, bankruptcy and family law in Arbutus for the 15 years and is the current president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, an organization of which he's been a part since 2002. He first became president in 2005 and has served several times in that capacity. The group's by-laws do not allow more than two consecutive one-year terms.

The attorney has carved out a reputation for himself as being committed to promoting local business in the area. He believes in promoting local spending in order to create what he calls an, "economic multiplier effect."

"If you're going to grow your economy locally, you have to spend your money locally," he said on the attitude area business owners should share.

Steve Moran, owner of the Ice Cream Cottage in downtown Arbutus and a member of ABPA, said Nolan has done a "fantastic job" as president of the organization.

"He's been very pro-business, which has been great for the area," Moran said.

Deborah Sebour, another ABPA board member whose real estate agent whose office is on Sulphur Spring Road in Arbutus, said, "He's a hard worker who loves the community."

The passion he has for the close-knit community in Arbutus comes from his Midwestern upbringing, Sebour said.

Nolan's work ethic also goes back to his upbringing in Indiana, where he worked in a steel mill in order to save up for college.

The middle child in a family of five, he said and his parents couldn't afford to send him to college.


He attended Indiana University briefly after high school.

Eventually, he made his way to Maryland, serving in the Army at Fort Meade. He spent three years in the Army as a military police officer after joining the service at age 22.

He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 1982, where he studied political science and government. While on campus, he served as president of the college's Student Government Association. He then went on to law school at University of Baltimore School of Law. He graduated in 1985 and decided to remain in the area.

"Arbutus is a great little town. It has great family roots," he said enthusiastically.

He believes Arbutus has a good business base, but wants the ABPA to improve on certain aspects of the area, such as attracting a younger crowd of customers to the downtown commercial district that includes businesses on Sulphur Spring Road, East Drive and Oregon Avenue, among others.

The association held a concert series last summer and plan to hold another this year. But the schedule may be modified to extend into the early fall in order to attract the students who have returned to classes on the nearby UMBC campus, he Nolan said.

Last summer's concerts featured bands such as Appaloosa, and Rob Fahey and the Pieces, whose fans are older than college students.

This time around, the ABPA is working with students at UMBC to find bands that will appeal to a younger crowd, he said.

Wayne McDowell, owner of McDowell's Complete Chimney Service in Lansdowne and a member of the ABPA for 20 years, said Nolan has been successful at improving the relationship between Arbutus and UMBC.

"He's been supportive of bringing new people to the area," McDowell said.

Those efforts are not confined to trying to attract students to the area. The group has also targeted those commuting to Washington, D.C. who depart from and return to the Halethorpe MARC station.

Because of its proximity to the station, which recently underwent a $32 million in renovations, Nolan said Arbutus could be a good option for those making the trip to decide to stay.

"It's inexpensive to live here. So, we're trying to attract people to live here from [Washington, D.C.]" Nolan said.

It's a feeling the Indiana native knows well.