Werner G. Schoeler, a retired Baltimore County District Court judge and a coin collector, died Friday of sepsis at Summit Park Health and Rehabilitation Center in Catonsville. The longtime Catonsville resident was 78.
Judge Schoeler was born in Baltimore and raised on Harlem Avenue. He was a 1948 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in College Park.
While studying at the University of Maryland and for his law degree, which he earned from the University of Baltimore in 1953, Judge Schoeler worked at United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co.
Judge Schoeler met his future law partner, Roland Bounds, while working at USF&G;, and after passing the Maryland Bar in 1954, he established a general law practice at the Charing Cross Shopping Center.
In addition to his legal work, he sold insurance and real estate and provided income tax preparation services to "make ends meet" in those early days, said his son, Kevin G. Schoeler of Santa Monica, Calif.
After establishing his law firm, he and Mr. Bounds merged their practices to form the Catonsville law firm of Bounds & Schoeler.
"We were two young guys doing a law practice and trying to survive," Mr. Bounds said yesterday. "He was a stand-up straight guy - he said what he meant and meant what he said."
As a teenager, Louis J. Weinkam Sr. first got to know Judge Schoeler.
"I was working as a soda jerk at the Charing Cross Shopping Center, and he had his office on the second floor," he said. "He'd come down each day to get coffee and lunch, and I'd talk to him."
Years later, after Mr. Weinkam became a Catonsville attorney, he came to know Judge Schoeler professionally.
"He was very serious, and while he seemed gruff, he was very fair. If someone violated a break he'd given them, he wouldn't tolerate their excuses," said Weinkam said.
"Werner always made sure that justice was served, and he never berated lawyers or clients in the courtroom," he said.
"Of course, over the years, I didn't win every case in his courtroom, that's the nature of the business, but I always knew that he'd render a fair verdict," Mr. Weinkam said.
Carol W. Peabody was 18 when she went to work in 1966 for Judge Schoeler, who at that time was still practicing law with Mr. Bounds at Charing Cross Shopping Center.
"He hired me right out of high school," said Mrs. Peabody, who is a legal assistant and office manager at the law firm where Mr. Bounds still practices.
"Judge Schoeler was absolutely one super person, and it was like having my dad working with me while I was at work," she said. "If I had a problem, he'd take the time and help me figure it out."
In addition to his legal work, Judge Schoeler also served as an associate judge for the People's Court of Baltimore County from 1964 to 1968.
In 1971, Judge Schoeler was appointed to the District Court of Maryland by Gov. Marvin Mandel.
He retired in 1988.
"I used to see Werner holding court at the Double T Diner in Catonsville, where he met friends each morning there for breakfast," said retired Baltimore County Circuit Judge John F. Fader II.
"He was a rather nondescript fellow but was very polite and nice to everyone," Judge Fader said. "He was truly a mainstay of the Catonsville community."
Kevin Schoeler said that his father was "ultimately best-known for his rigorous honesty and adherence to a strict moral code."
"He could be very tough but he was motivated by solely wanting to do good for people and by doing the right thing," his son said. "Punishment, as part of his job as a judge, was fueled by his desire to improve society and the lives of those who appeared before him in his courtrooms."
Judge Schoeler was a past member of the Maryland State and Baltimore County bar associations, the American Judicature Society and the Baltimore County Citizens' Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
He was also a past member and former officer of Sigma Delta Kappa and the Catonsville chapter of the National Exchange Club.
He had been a member of Zion Lutheran Church and was a former president of the church council.
Judge Schoeler enjoyed gardening, reading, travel and collecting American coins.
No services will be held.
Also surviving are his wife of 51 years, the former Ingrid Buchal; two daughters, Anita I. Mitzel of Catonsville and Karen A. Zdunich of Phoenix, Ariz.; and two grandchildren.