Milton R. Jones, a retired workers' compensation attorney and former volunteer firefighter who enjoyed collecting vintage electric trains and toys, died Saturday of pneumonia at Lorien Mays Chapel Health Care Center. He was 89.
Mr. Jones was born in Baltimore and raised on West North Avenue. After graduating from Forest Park High School in 1941, he entered the Coast Guard, where he served for a year before being honorably discharged.
He then went to work in Baltimore for the Pennsylvania Railroad as an accident and claims investigator, investigating injuries to rail workers.
While working for the railroad, he studied law at night at the University of Baltimore School of Law, where he graduated with honors in 1955.
Admitted to practice law in Maryland, federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Jones began practicing personal injury law with an emphasis on railroad workers, with Constable, Alexander & Daneker.
In 1960, he joined the firm of Bernard Savage. After Mr. Savage's death in 1969, he established the law firm of Savage, Jones, Tingle & Schwartzmann.
"The firm took up the entire 30th floor of what was then the Mathieson Building on Light Street," said his wife of 58 years, the former Muriel Lipson.
"While he learned his trade working for the Pennsylvania Railroad, in private practice he represented railroad workers from the various unions. He was an accomplished trial attorney and traveled up and down the East Coast trying his cases in federal court," said his son, Gregory J. Jones, a Baltimore personal injury attorney.
"He was a huge character and was always wisecracking. He could easily disarm people with his humor," his son said. "He loved trial work, and it takes a special person to do that.'
Mr. Jones often wove a sense of humor into his courtroom work.
H. Neil Glasser was a close friend for 50 years.
"He was a character, to say the least. He'd shake your hand and then tell you to count your fingers. That was a standard line with him. He always had a story or a joke, and was one unforgettable person," said Mr. Glasser, who lives in Owings Mills.
During the 1970s, Mr. Jones was selected to become a member of the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission. He retired in 2005.
Mr. Jones was a man of many interests.
He enjoyed collecting antique Lionel O-gauge and American Flyer S-gauge trains, and each year set up an elaborate Christmas garden in the basement of his Timonium home, where he incorporated trains and toys from his collection.
"His Christmas garden was as nice as any in the city. He lived next door to Timonium Elementary School and loved having the children over to see it," Mr. Glasser said.
"He also had the largest collection of Tootsie Toys that I'd ever seen. I think he had them all," Mr. Glasser said. "He began collecting them when he was a child, and even had their original boxes."
As an auxiliary member of the Baltimore Fire Department from 1964 to 1975, Mr. Jones was assigned to Engine 52 on Woodbrook Avenue and responded to hundreds of fire calls.
He was an active member and past president of Box 414, a volunteer firefighting buffs' association, and the International Fire Buffs Associates.
"We used to ride the pumper together at Engine 52," Mr. Glasser said.
After retiring from active fire calls, Mr. Jones joined the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company, where he was assistant treasurer and office assistant.
He also participated in the volunteer fire company's annual Christmas tree sale and other fundraising events.
"I remember one time, a lady bought a Christmas tree from Milton and a little while later brought it back. She said it smelled like urine," Mr. Glasser said.
"That didn't faze Milton. He patiently explained that it came from up north and let her select another tree and a wreath so we could keep her happy and as a customer," he said. "A little while later, he sold the same tree to somebody else for twice the price. That was Milton."
In 2004, Mr. Jones narrated a video production marking the 100th anniversary of the 1904 Baltimore Fire that was produced by the Fire Museum of Maryland.
"If he hadn't been a lawyer, he would have been a firefighter," his son said.
Mr. Jones was also a member of the Parkville American Legion post and the Towson Elks Club.
Mr. Jones was a communicant of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Roman Catholic Church in Timonium.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.
Also surviving are two grandchildren; a niece; and two nephews.