Theodore G. Bloom, a retired Maryland Court of Special Appeals judge known for opinions peppered with literary references, died of pancreatic cancer complications Saturday at Anne Arundel Medical Center. He was 81 and lived in Annapolis.
"He was a beloved figure in the Maryland judiciary," said Joseph F. Murphy, chief judge of the Court of Special Appeals. "His mind was razor-sharp, and he quoted beautifully from poetry and song. He was a real scholar with an appreciation for literature."
Born in Baltimore and raised in Durham, N.C., he developed a respect for perfect grammar and punctuation while in high school, family members said. He served in the Navy as a medical corpsman from 1944 to 1946 in Europe and the Pacific and again from 1950 to 1951 during the Korean War.
He attended the University of Maryland as an undergraduate and as a law student, earning a bachelor's degree in 1949. He graduated second in his law class in 1953 and became a clerk for Judge Stephen R. Collins of the Maryland Court of Appeals.
In 1954, he moved to Annapolis and joined the law office of Albert J. Goodman, with whom he subsequently became a partner on South Street.
"From his days in private practice, he became a leading expert on domestic relations law," said retired special appeals Judge Charles E. Moylan Jr., who also described him as the "exemplar of the perfect colleague."
Gov. Harry R. Hughes appointed him in 1983 to the Court of Special Appeals, where he sat until his 1996 retirement. He then continued to work actively as a judge on the court until last week.
Colleagues said Judge Bloom was noted for his erudite and literate opinions. They cited his affection for the history of British law, his love of operetta composers Gilbert and Sullivan and the poems of T.S. Eliot, Dorothy Parker and Ogden Nash, which became the inspiration for the quotations and historical references that flavored his opinions. Although an observant Jew, he studied Christianity to gain insight into an internal dispute within the Lutheran Church.
He also enjoyed Rumpole of the Bailey and met its author, Sir John Mortimer, in London.
Judge Bloom was regarded as the grammarian by his colleagues on the court and considered The Elements of Style, edited by E.B. White, his "grammatical bible."
Judge Bloom served as a member of the Maryland Bar Association Board of Governors, was a past president of the Anne Arundel Bar Association and was a member of the County Charter Commission and the Attorney Grievance Commission.
He served as the chairman of the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities, which investigates complaints against Maryland judges in nonpublic meetings.
"So many complaints are unfounded," he told a Sun reporter in 1995. He said that that 50 percent to 70 percent of the complaints are filed by people who lost their cases and assumed the trial was fixed.
"The idea of confidentiality was to guard against that," Judge Bloom said in 1995. "The principal function of the Judicial Disabilities Commission is to keep the judiciary in line, and not to satisfy the public."
He was a member of Congregation Knesset Israel in Annapolis.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Hardesty Funeral Home, 12 Ridgely Ave. in Annapolis.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, the former Mary Louise Rosenberg; three sons, Keith Bloom of Ellicott City, Scott Bloom of Silver Spring and Ira Bloom of Sebastopol, Calif.; a daughter, Diane Savadkin of Columbia; a brother, Burton Howard "Buzz" Bloom of Lexington, Mass; and four grandchildren.