Ambrose T. Hartman

The Baltimore Sun

Ambrose Thomas "Andy" Hartman, former longtime deputy city solicitor for Baltimore City and a decorated World War II veteran, died Tuesday of pulmonary fibrosis at National Health Care, a Mauldin, S.C., assisted-living facility. The former Homeland resident was 83.

Born and raised in Middle River, the son of a carpenter and bus driver, Mr. Hartman was a 1943 graduate of Towson Catholic High School.

He served in the Army for 2 1/2 years during World War II with the 29th Division's 175th Infantry and landed at Normandy on June 7, 1944.

He was awarded the Bronze Star for meeting the standards for "courage and discipline between July 1944 and March 1945," and a Purple Heart after being wounded.

After returning to Baltimore at war's end, he enrolled at the University of Maryland and in 1951 earned his law degree from the University of Maryland Law School.

"He was something of a trailblazer. He was the first member of our family to attend college, which he did on the GI Bill," said a brother, James R. Hartman of Ellicott City.

Only two years out of law school and an assistant attorney general, Mr. Hartman successfully argued an Anne Arundel County criminal appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The next year, Mr. Hartman, who was a part of the state's team of lawyers, gained additional fame when he argued successfully before the Court of Appeals that G. Edward Grammer had received a fair trial. Grammer had been convicted of killing his wife, Dorothy May Grammer, 33, the mother of three daughters, in 1952.

The defendant in the sensational murder trial was the last person to be hanged in Maryland when he was executed at the Maryland Penitentiary in 1954.

In 1955, Mr. Hartman left the attorney general's office and joined the Baltimore law firm of Semmes, Bowen and Semmes.

Four years later, Mr. Hartman, a lifelong Democrat, accepted a job as deputy to an old friend, City Solicitor Harrison L. Winter, who later became chief judge of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"The best years and the easiest years were in the beginning," Mr. Hartman told The Sun at his 1993 retirement. "When I first started, the city's problems were not as great as now."

In 1961, he once again left city government when he joined the law firm of Miles & Stockbridge but returned to City Hall during the administration of Republican Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin in 1964.

After becoming mayor in 1967, Thomas J. D'Alesandro III put Mr. Hartman in charge of overseeing the city's legislation before the General Assembly in Annapolis.

"He was one hardworking lawyer and the kind of guy I always gave the tough cases to because I realized the job would be well done," Mr. D'Alesandro said last week.

"When I was mayor, I always relied on his recommendations. He would deliberate and never made off-the-cuff decisions. He was wedded to the law," he said.

"Andy was a quiet man. Solid. No razzmatazz," Mr. D'Alesandro said. "And I can't stress how much I respected his knowledge of the law."

From 1968 to 1974, Mr. Hartman worked for George L. Russell Jr., who was city solicitor and is now a lawyer in private practice.

"We were partners, and Andy was an incredibly intelligent man who retained all of the institutional law," Mr. Russell said. "He was an extremely hard worker and a very kind person who was especially kind to young lawyers."

Mr. Russell recalled those years when he and Mr. Hartman were working together on difficult cases for the city.

"However, those years I spent with Andy were the most enjoyable of my career," he said. "He was very loyal and made the road easier."

During his years with Mr. Russell, a private civil dispute arose over air rights. The dispute had just ended with an agreement to lease the space above a downtown building, which the city had decided to tax.

Mr. Russell told The Sun that "Air is free unless you sell it," and it became Mr. Hartman's task to sell that legal concept to the Court of Appeals.

"He won," Mr. Russell said.

During his lengthy legal career, Mr. Hartman worked for three attorneys general, five city solicitors and six mayors.

Former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke recalled Mr. Hartman as a "fine lawyer and an even better human being."

Mr. Schmoke, who had first met Mr. Hartman as a young lawyer, later became his boss.

"He had a great sense of humor when it came to that," Mr. Schmoke said.

"There was only one time when I heard Andy speak about his career trajectory as deputy city solicitor. He said, 'Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,' " Mr. Schmoke said.

City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, a former City Council president, said that Mr. Hartman was "very much of the old school."

"He made his job his life, which was a benefit to all of us," Mrs. Clarke said. "He was a very steady guy and well-regarded.

"Oh, we used to spar sometimes, legally only, but it was never in a personal manner," she said.

At the time of his retirement, Mr. Hartman told The Sun, "I've gotten a lot of satisfaction in performing public service ... and shaping the direction of city government. But after all these years ... I'm leaving while I'm still in good health and can enjoy life."

In 1996, Mr. Hartman and his wife of 44 years, the former Doris "Darcy" Smith, moved to Keowee, S.C., where he joined the Salem Lions Club and volunteered with the organization's mobile vision screening unit.

He was also a board member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Clemson University and a member of St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church.

Mr. Hartman was an avid reader - he enjoyed biographies, history and literature - and a fisherman.

A memorial service was held yesterday at the Goucher College chapel.

Also surviving are two other brothers, Bernard Hartman of Columbus, Ohio, and Thomas Hartman of Naples, Fla.; two sisters, Helen Webber of Perry Hall and Elizabeth "Lisa" Astudillo of Falls Church, Va.; and many nieces and nephews.

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