James C. Holman, an attorney who represented corporate and banking clients and had been board chairman of a children's charity, died of congestive heart failure Monday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Timonium resident was 61.
Born in Springfield, Mo., he earned a bachelor's degree in history from Drury University, a law degree at Vanderbilt University in 1971 and a master's degree in law from George Washington University.
After law school, Mr. Holman served in the Army at Fort Holabird. He then became a law clerk in a Washington federal tax court and practiced law in Kansas City, Mo., for three years before joining Baltimore's Whiteford, Taylor & Preston in 1979.
"He had a keen mind and was always a consummate professional and gentleman," said Albert J. Mezzanotte Jr., managing partner of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston. "He was quiet and soft-spoken."
Mr. Holman practiced business and commercial law and represented numerous clients, including McDaniel College, banks and individuals engaged in commercial transactions.
"He was a precise and talented lawyer," said Bob Sloan, a legal associate and friend from their days together in law school. "He had an affable personality and never lost his temper."
Friends that the Whiteford firm recalled Mr. Holman as a father figure to many of the firm's younger partners and associates.
"On the nights that I would work late, Jim would stop by my office and wait for me to finish my work so he could drive me home. He didn't want me walking five blocks by myself," said Maria de L. Mojica, an associate at the firm.
Mr. Holman was a former board chairman of Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland, a group he joined in 1996, and he remained active in the organization at his death.
"He always talked of how proud he was of the work the staff did here," said Stan Levi, the organization's executive director. "He was a gracious man with positive things to say. He recognized that our people work with difficult issues, and he was in awe of the way they worked."
He was also chairman of the agency's services and development, 150th anniversary and executive committees.
"I was struck by Jim's sensitivity and graciousness. We nicknamed him Gentleman Jim because that was always how he presented himself. He was a true statesman in his dealings with the board, always listening to all opinions and committed to guiding it to consensus without rancor," Mr. Levi said.
He recalled that Mr. Holman had a "a touch of impishness" and "often told lawyer jokes and was self-effacing about the complexities of the legal profession."
Mr. Holman represented Family and Children's Services in its merger negotiations with the Family Life Center in 1997.
"He used a practical approach to bring bogged-down discussions to a close," Mr. Levi said.
Mr. Holman was a lifelong student of American history. He also played golf, read and hunted for antiques. He also made studies of the Holman family history.
"He planned his vacations to gather information about the Holman family," said his sister, Eleanor Sigmon of Prescott, Ariz. "He had such a mild and unthreatening manner that people were willing to share family stories and information with him."
Mr. Holman was active in the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
In addition to his sister, survivors include a nephew, James W. Sigmon Jr. of Marion, Iowa; a niece, Linda Roxberg of Overland Park, Kan.; and six great-nieces.