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Roger D. Redden

The Baltimore Sun

Roger D. Redden, who spent most of his legal career as a partner at Piper and Marbury and maintained a lifelong interest in architecture and travel, died Tuesday from a cerebral hemorrhage at Union Memorial Hospital. He was 75.

"His death has really hit me hard. He was a dear friend and one of the finest attorneys I've ever known. I'd rank him No. 1 in the way he practiced law and treated people," Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said yesterday.

Mr. Cardin said that when he was speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, he frequently consulted Mr. Redden for advice.

"He always told you what was best for the state," Senator Cardin said. "His death is both a personal loss as well as a tremendous loss for the community."

Alan M. Wilner, a former judge on the state Court of Special Appeals, was a friend of many years.

"Roger was an incredibly unique and cosmopolitan individual. He had a stunning command of the breadth of the law and legal process and was one of the few lawyers that I've ever known that did," Mr. Wilner said.

"He had such a marvelous knowledge of the law and could articulate it in a very easy, understandable way. He was never pedantic in any sense of the word. He was a huge credit to the profession," Mr. Wilner said.

Mr. Redden was born in Washington and raised in Denton, where his father, Layman J. Redden, a former Maryland state senator, practiced law for more than 40 years.

He was a graduate of St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Del., and earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1954. He earned a law degree in 1957 from the University of Maryland School of Law, where he was editor in chief of the Maryland Law Review.

After graduating from law school, he clerked for Morris A. Soper, a distinguished federal appeals court judge, and then joined a small law firm.

In 1969, Mr. Redden joined what was then Piper and Marbury, now DLA Piper, where he worked until retiring in 1997.

Mr. Redden's legal specialty was government bond financing and public utility law.

"But his knowledge of the law was so broad that he often was asked to handle many other complex matters," said Shale D. Stiller, a partner in DLA Piper, and president of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

"At one time or another, he represented virtually every county in Maryland, and in connection with his practice before the Public Service Commission, represented many of the power companies and was instrumental in having the Calvert Cliffs development come to fruition," Mr. Stiller said, referring to Maryland's only nuclear power plant.

One of Mr. Redden's lifelong interests was the simplification of the law, and in 1966, he was appointed by Gov. J. Millard Tawes to the Henderson Commission, which examined and made recommendations on revising inheritance tax and probate laws.

"It produced what has often been described as a set of rules marking Maryland as the most forward-thinking and efficient state in the country for the administration of estates," Mr. Stiller said.

After Mr. Redden and another lawyer wrote an article for the Maryland Law Review in 1969 calling for revision of the entire body of Maryland's statutory law, which consisted of approximately 10,000 pages, the General Assembly followed the authors' suggestion and established a Code Revision Commission.

For the next 25 years, Mr. Redden "labored to revise, reorganize and put in simple English almost every statute in the Maryland Code of Laws," Mr. Stiller said.

He added: "This task is about 95 percent complete today, and some have suggested that, because of his vision and Herculean efforts, the code be dedicated to his memory."

Francis B. Burch Jr., co-chief executive of DLA Piper, who was hired by the firm in 1972, recalled Mr. Redden's mentoring skills.

"He was always about getting it right and that you had to do your best effort every day. And believe me, it rubbed off on all of us," Mr. Burch said.

"Roger was a man of great personal warmth and had true empathy for others. He had the ability to see problems through the eyes of others and would then find effective solutions," Mr. Burch said. "He would never yell, scream or demean, and knew how to get people to do their best."

Mr. Redden was a man of wide-ranging interests and had no trouble indulging them, whether it was the study of architecture, art, botany, wine, ornithology or finding the interesting, small, nontourist-infested hotel in the French countryside.

Also, in recent years, he enjoyed leading and narrating walking tours of Mount Vernon Place.

"Roger proved that there was more to life than writing legal briefs or preparing for legal arguments. He was an incredibly sophisticated guy," Mr. Burch said.

In 1954, while a Yale undergraduate, Mr. Redden wrote an architectural appraisal of his hometown, a part of which was published in The Sun in 1961. In it, he concluded, "Denton is full of ugly houses ... but the nicest people live in them."

"He had a lifelong interest in architecture and couldn't resist going in any building that caught his eye," said Walter G. Schamu, a Baltimore architect and longtime friend.

"He was a modernist at heart, which was probably a bit too much for fuddy-duddy Baltimore. We once spent two weeks in Holland together seeking out examples of Dutch modernism," he said.

Mr. Schamu said that his friend was known as the "Beltway Botanist," and it wasn't uncommon to see Mr. Redden walking alongside roadways studying examples of lemon grass, for instance.

"Roger knew how to live well, enjoy his friends and make the perfectly stirred Bombay Sapphire martini," Mr. Schamu said.

"He was brilliant and always fun to be around. You never knew where a conversation with Roger would take you," Mr. Cardin said.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church at Saratoga and North Charles streets.

Surviving is his wife of 45 years, the former Gretchen Sause.


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