Calvert Ross Bregel Sr., trial lawyer, dies

Calvert Ross Bregel Sr., a renowned trial lawyer and lifelong outdoorsman, died June 19 of complications from Alzheimer's disease at the Presbyterian Home of Maryland in Towson. The Glen Arm resident was 84.

The son of an attorney and a homemaker, Mr. Bregel grew up in the Hamilton section of the city and on his family's farm on the Choptank River in Cambridge, where he developed a deep appreciation for the Chesapeake Bay and its environs as well as for boating, fishing and hunting.

"He raced sailboats as a child and had boats around him all his life," said a son, C. Ross Bregel Jr. of Towson. "His favorite was a classic sports fishing boat, the Miss Demeanor that he purchased in the '80s."

Soon after Mr. Bregel graduated from the McDonogh School, where he was a member of the wrestling team, he joined the merchant marine. It was the end of World War II, and he spent many weeks at sea, honing his skills. He graduated from the U.S. Maritime Cadet School in New York.

He later studied law at the University of Baltimore and after graduating from the University of Virginia Judge Advocate Generals School, he began his legal career in the JAG Corps, serving as both prosecutor and defense attorney.

"He got his feet wet on both sides and was very proud of the military aspects of his law career," said Ross Bregel, an optometrist with a practice in Federal Hill.

Along with his father, Howard Calvert Bregel, he formed Bregel and Bregel Chartered, a law firm at Charles Center in the city, and quickly built a reputation for expertise in matrimonial law. The Bregels, who later relocated the firm to Towson, represented many well-known clients, including Mickey Rooney, Hedda Hopper, Dorothy Lamour and Johnny Unitas.

"My father and grandfather had quite a reputation for getting good settlements for their clients," the son said. "But I have to say all those calls from angry spouses and harassment from miserable people is what kept me from following them into the law. His clients loved him. Their spouses hated him."

The son recalled returning to the family home in Guilford one evening and finding the front door smashed in by an outraged spouse.

"That's when we moved to Glen Arm," he said of the family's farm.

Mr. Bregel represented the late Bill Burton, an outdoors writer for The Sun, in four divorces, and the two became fast friends who spoke daily to each other.

"They were inseparable friends, joined at the hip," said Dr. Stan Minken of Bozman, a surgeon who in later years frequently joined the two friends on hunting and fishing trips. "But there were always fights over Burton's pipe smoking."

Dr. Minken said their trips were memorable for the great stories, savory meals and drinks they shared.

"No one knew more jokes or could tell them better than Cal Bregel, who called all his best friends by their last names and spoke in a deep resonant voice," he said. "He was also our chief bartender, who made an outstanding Bloody Mary."

A lifelong outdoorsman, Mr. Bregel maintained sports clubs at his Glen Arm farm, his home for 50 years. Bunker Hill Farm, named for his boyhood home in Cambridge, was a popular gathering spot for family, friends and the Police Boy's Club.

"Calvert had only a few close friends, hardly surprising for a divorce lawyer," said Alan Doelp, a close friend and fellow fishing enthusiast and former Evening Sun reporter. "But for those special few, Calvert was a genteel host, a steady companion, a wise counselor and a loyal comrade. He had an ability to care that set him apart from many of his professional colleagues."

Mr. Bregel was elected president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association in 1965 and served as president and chairman of the Building Association Lawyers of Maryland.

After his retirement from the law practice in 1987, he spent many hours cruising the bay and its tributaries aboard the Miss Demeanor.

Services and interment are private.

Survivors include another son, T. Mark Bregel of Ruxton; five grandchildren; one great-grandchild; three step-grandchildren; two step-great-grandchildren and his companion, Tillie Albrecht. Three previous marriages ended in divorce.

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