Samuel Summers Field III, a Baltimore attorney and Baltimore Circuit Court auditor, died of heart failure Feb. 13 at his home in the Pinehurst neighborhood of Baltimore County. He was 77.
Mr. Field, who had been a familiar figure in downtown legal circles and courthouses for more than 40 years, was born in Baltimore and raised in Govans.
His grandfather, Samuel Summers Field Sr., had been a law partner of Baltimore Mayor James H. Preston and served as Baltimore city solicitor from 1911 to 1919.
After graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1950, Mr. Field joined the old State Roads Commission as a surveyor. From 1951 to 1955, he was a member of the Army Reserve, where he was a guided-missile instructor.
In the late 1950s, while working as an investigator for the city solicitor's office, he attended night school at the University of Baltimore.
After earning his law degree and being admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1959, Mr. Field was appointed an assistant city solicitor in 1962.
He briefly worked for Dunn & Bradstreet before establishing his own practice in 1963 that specialized in creditors' rights. The practice was in the Keyser Building on Redwood Street and later moved to offices on West Hamilton Street.
In 1995, Mr. Field merged his practice with Thieblot Ryan P.A., also a creditors' rights law firm, then headquartered in the World Trade Center building on East Pratt Street.
"I've known Sam since 1967 and greatly admired him," said Anthony W. Ryan, a partner in Thieblot Ryan, now located in Towson.
"He was a master at math and over the years tried collecting hundreds and hundreds of judgments for such clients as the Bank of Baltimore and the Baltimore County Savings Bank. He was the attorney of record on these cases," Mr. Ryan said.
"I always thought of Sam as being a forensic auditor - he saw things others didn't - because he had a very, very sharp mind when it came to figures," he said.
Mr. Ryan recalled that Mr. Field had two sides.
"He had a joking side with a dry wit, and a serious business side," he said. "Sam was honest, decent and ethical, and you could bounce anything off of him."
In addition to his own practice, Mr. Field was appointed to the Baltimore Circuit Court as one of its auditors in 1983 by Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan, who was chief judge of the city Circuit Court before retiring in 2006.
"Sam was a terrific human being and did a wonderful job for the Circuit Court of Baltimore City. He was a true gentleman and a scholar," Judge Kaplan said yesterday.
"Sam was one of the two auditors we had, and he was an all-around person. Nothing was too complex or too tough for him," he said. "If it was a controversial case, it went right to Sam, who dispatched it with accuracy."
Judge Kaplan said it was Mr. Field's task to examine and verify financial data that were components of legal cases and that most of the cases involved real estate.
"It was Sam's job to make sure there was no financial finagling going on. He'd check the books and the math, and made sure that all expenses were legal. This was essential work," Judge Kaplan said.
"The reason I appointed Sam was because he was a fairly well-known lawyer in town, and I thought he'd be the perfect person for the job," he said.
It was Mr. Field's routine to drop by the clerk's office in the courthouse and pick up cases, which he took back to his law office, where he unraveled and checked what could be complicated financial data.
"He did this work so well," Judge Kaplan said. "Also, Sam wasn't paid by the court, but rather by the proceeds from the case."
At his death, Mr. Field was still going to work.
"We had an argument the day before he died because he said he was going to court," said his daughter, Catherine Margaret Field of Lutherville.
Mr. Field was a member of the Professional Ethics Committee from 1977 to 1980 and the Inquiry Committee of the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission from 1983 until the present.
For years, Mr. Field was active with Boy Scout Troop 35 at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.
He was also a member of the YMCA, Downtown Athletic Club and the Roland Run Club in Lutherville, where he was captain of the doubles tennis team for many years.
His wife of 50 years, the former Joann Vilma Chester, died last year.
Mr. Field was a longtime active member of Hunt's Memorial United Methodist Church in Riderwood, where a memorial service was held Thursday.
Also surviving are a son, Samuel Summers Field IV of Raleigh, N.C.; and two granddaughters.