Fred Weisgal, 71, lawyer, official in Israel


Fred E. Weisgal, a prominent former Baltimore civil rights attorney who later emigrated to Israel where he became an official in the Ministry of Justice, collapsed yesterday morning and died at his home in Roland Park. He was 71.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Beth Am Synagogue, 2501 Eutaw Place.

Mr. Weisgal, an ebullient man equally talented as a lawyer and a musician, made his mark in Baltimore and in Israel, where he lived for more than 20 years.

Mr. Weisgal's first major case, which he won, involved a suit to admit blacks to the Maryland Institute art school in 1947. Soon after this, he joined the Baltimore branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, where he continued to press civil rights cases, often representing clients and causes without charge.

In 1969, Mr. Weisgal moved with his family to Israel, where he first served as a senior adviser to the attorney general and then headed the American law section and foreign relations for the Ministry of Justice. He held this postion until he retired in 1987. He then returned to the United States with his wife, Jeanne, and they settled in Roland Park.

Mr. Weisgal was born in Czechoslovakia Nov. 25, 1919, and came to Baltimore with his family when he was 6 months old. His father Adolph, known to everyone as "Abba," was the cantor at Chizuk Amuno synagogue on Eutaw Place.

Mr. Weisgal attended Baltimore public schools and Johns Hopkins University and earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore Law School.

In addition to his wife, the former Jeanne de LaViez, whom he married in 1948, Mr. Weisgal is survived by his brother, Hugo Weisgall, a well-known opera composer who lives in Great Neck, N.Y.; three daughters, Margit Weisgal of Silver Spring, Aran Mimran of San Leandro, Calif., and Rebecca Lavon of Baltimore; two sons, Lawrence and Samuel, both of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.

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