Dayhoff: Local attorney Charles 'Mike' Preston answered his call in life 'to be a lawyer'

Dayhoff: Local attorney Charles 'Mike' Preston answered his call in life 'to be a lawyer'
Attorney Charles "Mike" Preston died Dec. 6.

Local community leader and well-known attorney Charles “Mike” Preston passed away on Dec. 6. He was 73. On Dec.12, friends, family, members of the Bar Association, community leaders, past and present judges, and dignitaries crowded into the chapel at Pritts Funeral Home to celebrate the life and times and accomplishments of Preston.

As I walked quietly across the parking lot to attend Preston’s memorial service, my mind drifted back to long meandering conversations with Preston about the life and times, and works, of F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Preston was well-known in the community as an accomplished man of letters. Whenever I attend events at Pritts I am always taken aback by the breathtaking view of Westminster — otherwise known to Preston and me as “East Egg.”

If you will recall, East Egg in Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic novel “The Great Gatsby,” was a fictional community separated from “West Egg” by the “Valley of Ashes.” East Egg represented the past and West Egg — situated over on Parr’s Ridge, Western Maryland College, and beyond — represented the ‘clash of the new.’

For Preston and me, East Egg and West Egg were interchangeable depending upon whether or not we started the conversation at Western Maryland College — the Preston version of Fitzgerald’s experiences at Princeton University.

Our conversations began over 25 years ago with discussions about zoning issues and property rights when I was chair of the Carroll County Environmental Affairs Advisory Board and continued years later when I served as the mayor of Westminster. There were many occasions in which Preston and I agreed upon nothing. However, we loved our disagreements which quickly evolved into far-ranging agreements on history, literature, Mark Twain, and writers.

According to an article written by Patrick Tandy on Dec. 10, found on the Maryland State Bar Association’s (MSBA) website, Preston was not only a leader in Carroll County but throughout the state. He was president of the MSBA from 1998-1999.

According to Tandy, “A Baltimore native, Preston graduated from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in 1967. Three years later, he was admitted to the Maryland Bar after procuring his JD from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

“He served as a law clerk to Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Edward O. Weant, Jr. before joining the law firm of Hoffman & Hoffman as an associate in 1972. The firm changed its name to Hoffman, Hoffman & Preston when he became a partner in 1976 …

“Preston left the firm in January 1980 to form a new firm, Stoner, Preston & Boswell, with partners Charles E. Stoner and Richard V. Boswell. In sum, Preston practiced law in Carroll County for 48 years, and served as President of the Carroll County Bar Association in 1985-1986…”

Preston’s memorial service was officiated by my sister-in-law, The Rev. Dr. Sarah Babylon Dorrance. A number of folks spoke at his service including his law partner for many years, Charlie Stoner, and MSBA Past President Richard H. Sothoron Jr., Paul Carlin, Andrea Stoner, and June Romeo.

In Tandy’s article, Sothoron observed that Preston “was known throughout Maryland as a gifted lawyer who possessed a wonderful temperament, regardless of the venue or complexity of the case.” Sothoron also noted that while Preston attended Western Maryland College he regularly attended the training camp of the Baltimore Colts, where “he played catch with Johnny Unitas and made friends with Art Donovan.”

At his memorial service, Charlie Stoner testified that “not only was he a great attorney, but he was a magnificent carpenter.” A point emphasized in an article by Jacques Kelly in the Carroll County Times.

“He was adventurous, intelligent, humble, and a great friend,” said his wife, Barbara J. Redmer.

“He read numerous works of the history of the American Revolution,” according to Kelly. “He also spent time at a second home at Deep Creek Lake, where he had a sailboat. … He skied with friends in Ontario, British Columbia and Colorado.”

Dorrance observed that “Mike had all kinds of opportunities before him, even an opportunity to go to seminary on a scholarship, but Mike knew that his call in life was to be a lawyer, to serve other people” and his community…


“We all have stories to share, but there were a few stories that we do not hear as often,” said Dorrance. He worked for the Carroll County Agriculture Center, with my wife, Caroline Babylon, for decades — pro bono. According to Dorrance, “Mike kept his Bible by his bedside, and he would often read a little bit before he went to bed.”

Preston has inspired many to follow in his footsteps. Thank you for all your service to our community Mike — we’ll take it from here. God Bless. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.