Clement R. Mercaldo Sr., a Baltimore lawyer and former workmen's compensation commissioner, dies

Clement Robert Mercaldo Sr., a retired Baltimore attorney and former workmen’s compensation commissioner who had been an early law partner of former Gov. Marvin Mandel, died from kidney failure on Tuesday at his Towson residence. He was 98.

“He was a good man. I got to know him in the 1970s and we became close friends,” said Irvin B. “Irv” Deane, an Owings Mills attorney and Pikesville resident. “We golfed together, played cards, socialized and spent Christmases together. He was outgoing, friendly and a lot of fun.”

Mr. Mercaldo was born in Baltimore and raised on Montebello Terrace, the son of Italian immigrants. His father, Frank Mercaldo, was founder and owner of Excello Coat Makers, and his mother, Clara Mainolfi, worked alongside her husband in the business.

After graduating from Calvert Hall College High School in 1939, he attended what is now Loyola University Maryland for two years, then enlisted in the Army. He served from 1941 to 1944 in the North African and Italian campaigns.

He returned to Loyola and obtained a bachelor’s degree, then received a law degree in 1947 from the University of Maryland Law School.

Mr. Mercaldo was clerk in the House of Delegates from 1951 to 1954. He ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for a seat in the House from the 3rd District.

In 1955, Thomas N. Biddison, city solicitor, appointed Mr. Mercaldo as an assistant city solicitor. He also maintained a general law practice in the Munsey Building in downtown Baltimore for years.

In 1971 he was appointed to the then-Workmen’s Compensation Commission by Governor Mandel to complete the 12-year term of Helen Elizabeth Brown, who had retired. In 1979 he was appointed to a full 12-year term by Gov. Harry R. Hughes, but he retired in 1987. He was replaced by commissioner Jacques E. Leeds.

The commission, now called the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission, heard disputes between employees and employers. Mr. Deane recalled that as a commissioner, “Clem was always fair. No one said a bad word about him. He’d make a decision based on the testimony and evidence placed before him.

“He was thorough, detailed-oriented and was very personable and respectful to the lawyers that appeared before him,” he said.

His son, Clement R. Mercaldo Jr. of Timonium, said his father also retired from the law in 1987 and took up golf, “which allowed him to play almost every day.”

Mr. Mercaldo was a member of the Country Club of Maryland and Hunt Valley Golf Club, and he and Mr. Deane enjoyed golf outings to Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas and other destinations.

For years, Mr. Mercaldo lived in a home on Blandon Road in the Phoenix neighborhood of Baltimore County. He later moved to Towsongate, a condominium community near Goucher College.

In addition to collecting stamps and coins, Mr. Mercaldo enjoyed photography, and especially liked photographing family members.

“When I was a child he had a darkroom with a little red light where he developed his film,” his son said.

Mr. Mercaldo was also an inveterate trout fisherman. According to a 1952 article in The Evening Sun, was he thought to be the “first fisherman to take a boat through the rapids of Deer Creek from the bridge at U.S. Highway 1 to the Susquehanna River.” The nearly 7-hour voyage encompassed 20 miles and was made through turbulent and “boulder strewn” waters, the newspaper reported.

He also liked to take his family on five-week camping vacations across the country, pulling a trailer and visiting national parks and historic sites.

Mr. Mercaldo was a member of the Sons of Italy and the Associated Italian-American Charities and was a founding member of the Appian Society of Maryland. Carl P. Julio of Lutherville, a member of the society, said Mr. Mercaldo had served as president three or four times.

“We had speakers once a month and because he was a lawyer he’d always bring interesting ones, who enlightened us,” Mr. Julio said. “He was a very active person and proud of his Italian heritage. We learned a lot about our Italian heritage from him.”

Mr. Mercaldo was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues, Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 23 years, the former Maria Cho; a daughter, Melanie Maria Berndt of Long Green; two stepdaughters, Gloria Mori of Xenia, Ohio, and Julia Kim of Kansas City, Mo.; and five grandchildren. Another son, Francis Xavier “Frank” Mercaldo, died in 2003. An earlier marriage to the former Joyce Ann Burkheimer ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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