Samuel W. H. Meloy, a former Prince George's County Circuit judge and recently retired head of the agency that settles disputes over land acquisition for the Washington Metro system, died Friday after a long battle with liver cancer at his home in Davidsonville. He was 78.
"He was very caring and strong, always able to cope with things," said his son, William Stephen Meloy of Annapolis. "He never believed that God gave him more to deal with than he could bear, and he took it one day at a time."
Judge Meloy was part-time head of the federal Land Commission from 1981 until his resignation last week. Before that, he spent 16 years as a Circuit Court judge.
Born in Washington, Judge Meloy was graduated from the University of Maryland in 1936 and earned a law degree from George Washington University three years later.
He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and, after being discharged in 1946, was appointed a U.S. magistrate for Maryland.
In 1965, then-Gov. J. Millard Tawes appointed him to fill one of two newly created Circuit Court judgeships and he was elected to a 15-year term a year later.
When his term expired, he retired from the bench and immediately went to work for the Land Commission.
"He said he was sorry he didn't get to serve his government for the full 50 years he had intended," the younger Mr. Meloy said of his father. "Of course, he wasn't counting his [military] experience."
For more than four decades, he lived in a Colonial-era manor house on a more than 400-acre tract on the Patuxent River acquired by his father in 1917. The state and Prince George's County bought the land from Judge Meloy and his wife, Frances, in 1989 for $5 million as part of an effort to keep the Patuxent shoreline from being developed.
A past president of the Upper Marlboro Lions Club, Judge Meloy also was a former member of the Upper Marlboro Hunt Club and was chairman of the Two Rivers District Committee of the Boy Scouts of America.
He also was president of the University of Maryland's Carrollton Club and was registrar for Trinity Episcopal Church in Upper Marlboro.
In addition to his son, William, and his wife of 52 years, the former Frances Eanes, he is survived by another son, Arthur David Meloy of Oxford; and five grandchildren.
Services were to be held at 1 p.m. today at Trinity Episcopal Church, followed by interment in the church cemetery.
The family suggested donations to the Hospice of the Chesapeake, 8424 Veterans Highway, Millersville 21108; or to Trinity Episcopal Church, 14519 Church St., Upper Marlboro 20772.