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John H. Rhines

The Baltimore Sun

John Harold Rhines, a youth adviser and longtime lawyer who worked many cases for free, died of heart disease Thursday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 64.

Born in Ocala, Fla., Mr. Rhines was the eldest of six children born to John Harold Rhines Sr. and Gladys Grant. After his father died, his mother remarried, and the family relocated to Baltimore in 1947.

Mr. Rhines played football at Edmondson High and graduated in 1961. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Morgan State College, now Morgan State University, in 1966. He earned a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1968.

After he began practicing law, Mr. Rhines met and married Phyllis Kelly. The couple had three children.

During that time, Mr. Rhines and James E. Stancil started a law firm in 1971 and remained partners for decades.

After his first marriage ended in divorce, Mr. Rhines married the former Royreal Brown in 1985. The two met through a mutual friend.

The couple had five sons and had lived in the Mayfield neighborhood since 1981.

Mrs. Rhines said her husband had several chances to become a partner in some of the city's larger firms, but he choose to stay independent.

Mr. Rhines focused primarily on civil cases but occasionally practiced criminal law.

"He had a lot of compassion for the people," his wife said. "He really wanted to help them. He got very little monetary return. He did a lot of pro bono work because he generally cared about the community, especially young people. He tried to give them advice on life, getting themselves together and getting on a spiritual path."

Mr. Rhines continued to practice law until he recently fell ill.

"He was genuine," Mrs. Rhines said. "And he was generous. I had a son [from a previous relationship], and he was real good to him."

Mr. Rhines was an avid reader and a chess player, golfer and camper. He and his wife spent many weekends "junking" for antiques at flea markets along the East Coast.

Mr. Rhines enjoyed all kinds of music and had a particular affection for rap.

"The kids use to laugh at him because he'd listen to something, ask who it is, and then go out and get it," his wife said.

Mr. Rhines worshiped at the United Baptist Church in East Baltimore.

Services will be held at noon Wednesday at Waters African Methodist Episcopal Church, 417 N. Aisquith St.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Rhines is survived by seven sons, Jeffrey Rhines of Fairfax, Va., and Jason Rhines, John Ezra Rhines, Quentin Rhines, Kennan Rhines, Joshua Rhines and Elijah Rhines, all of Baltimore; a daughter, Erin Rhines of San Diego; a stepson, Kaisheem Muhammad of Baltimore; three sisters, Angie Gather of Sumter, S.C., and Janice Ford and Joanne Talley Smith, both of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

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