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Reuben Shiling

The Baltimore Sun

Reuben Shiling, an attorney who practiced law until the day he died, suffered a fatal heart attack Thursday at Union Memorial Hospital. He was 91 and lived in Guilford.

Born in Baltimore and raised on West Lexington Street, he was a 1931 graduate of City College, where he earned a diploma at age 15. He then enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University, but left school when his father died. He returned to Hopkins and earned a bachelor's degree in 1937.

Mr. Shiling earned a law degree at the University of Maryland School of Law in 1940.

He established a law practice in downtown Baltimore and practiced for many years in the Hecht & Hecht firm. At his death, he was the senior partner in Shiling, Bloch and Hirsh on Baltimore Avenue in Towson.

During World War II, he was an enforcement attorney with the Office of Price Administration in Maryland. Family members said he prosecuted violations of the agency's price ceilings, revoked gasoline ration stamps for speeding and prohibited recreational driving. He later worked at the Legal Aid Bureau.

"My grandfather was my best source of advice for difficult decisions," said a grandson, Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Baltimore's health commissioner. "He would see a situation from all sides and then identify a course of action that allowed everyone to see what they had in common. He never raised his voice."

As a lawyer, he handled civil and criminal cases. He defended a ticket broker who resold Navy-Notre Dame football seats at the old Baltimore Stadium and successfully challenged a city law barring ticket resales in 1948. He also represented associations of independent liquor dealers.

"He quickly found creative solutions to seemingly insolvable problems," said his son, Dr. David Shiling, a neurologist who lives in Norwich, Conn. "He knew what had to happen to make a deal comfortable. He had a quick mathematical mind. He had a keen sense of human psychology. He knew what motivated people."

Family members also said that he successfully opposed efforts to allow grocery stores to sell liquor in the 1970s. In 1978, he told the Maryland General Assembly that grocery stores were "promoting consumption" and would increase teenagers' access to alcohol.

He was an adviser to Jerome Robinson, who was a speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates and later a judge. The two practiced law together at one time.

Mr. Shiling represented W. Dale Hess, a Harford County Democrat who was active in Maryland politics in the 1960s and 1970s. The two owned property in Worcester County near Ocean City. Mr. Hess was one of six people, including then-Gov. Marvin Mandel, convicted on federal racketeering and mail fraud charges in 1977. The verdict was vacated in 1987.

Mr. Shiling was also president of the Maryland Association for Mental Health from 1966 to 1970. In that position, he testified on behalf of a mental health bill to protect people who were "highly dangerous" threats to themselves and others.

He also advocated for a statewide master plan to deal with the problems of emotionally disturbed children in schools.

Mr. Mandel appointed him chairman of Maryland's Advisory Council on Mental Hygiene in 1970.

In the mid-1960s, he served as chairman of the Municipal Courts Committee of the Bar Association of Baltimore City. He was a member of the board of directors of the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Baltimore and the Maryland State Conference on Social Welfare.

He met his future wife, the former Pearl Neiman, on a tennis court near Lake Ashburton. They played tennis together for many years.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

In addition to his wife of 68 years, his son and grandson, survivors also include a daughter, Dr. Margaret Sharfstein of Baltimore; five other grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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