Alexander R. “Alex” Martick, who practiced law in Baltimore for 61 years and who is fondly remembered for his signature greeting — “Got any whiskey?” — died Sept. 10 from complications of a stroke at Harrisburg Hospital in Harrisburg, Pa.
The former longtime Mount Washington resident was 89.
The youngest of five brothers and sisters, Alexander Rubin Martick was the son of Harry and Florence Martick, owners of a West Mulberry Street grocery store that became a speakeasy during Prohibition and later was a bar with the coming of Repeal.
He was born at home and raised in an apartment above the family business.
After graduating in 1946 from City College, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1952 in business and public administration from the University of Maryland, College Park, and the next year received a law degree from the University of Maryland Law School.
After being admitted to the Maryland bar in 1953, Mr. Martick practiced criminal and family law for the next 61 years, first in an office in the Equitable Bank Building, later in the Court Square Building in downtown Baltimore. He retired in 2014.
“We did everything from wills to murder,” said Connie Hundt, who was Mr. Martick’s secretary from 1979 until 2009, when she retired.
“He was smart, a very smart attorney. He liked cases that were challenges, and he was always for the underdog. We were a poor man’s attorney,” said Ms. Hundt, a former Baltimore resident who lives in Richmond, Va. “Alex’s biggest concern was never money, and that’s quite unusual for a lawyer. We did quite a bit of pro bono work.”
She said Mr. Martick had an an affinity for children and young people, and a genuine interest in people overall.
“He’d go all out for them if they had a problem and made sure they got on the right track,” she said. “When he talked to a person, he’d ask so many questions that some were taken aback. He wasn’t being nosy; he was just interested in them.”
John B. Sinclair, a semi-retired Baltimore attorney and partner in the law firm of Crosswhite, Limbrick & Sinclair LLP, said he first met Mr. Martick in a courtroom.
“I was just starting to practice law … and I was taken aback by him, but he immediately put me at ease,” Mr. Sinclair recalled. “I was this button-downed, pin-striped suit young lawyer and here was Alex dressed in khaki pants, a bright sports coat and wearing Docksiders. I don’t think he owned a suit, and that’s how he dressed when he came to court.”
The two men became close friends.
“Alex was an old-school lawyer and sui generis, one of a kind. If he saw someone being jammed by the man, he’d rush to their defense. He’d do whatever he could to support them,” Mr. Sinclair said.
Brenda Trusty, a Windsor Mill resident who retired from 1st Mariner Bank, recalled that she was working for Maryland National Bank on Light Street when she first met Mr. Martick as a client.
“We were like oil and vinegar. You could never tell him what he could or could not do. If you did, he wanted to know your name and your supervisor’s name,” said Ms. Trusty, who recalled their conversation. “He wanted to know where I went to school. What kind of degree do you have? Why did you become a banker?
“I thought, ‘Who is this guy?’ I mean, normal customers don’t do that. It was his way of getting to know you and you wound up telling him your whole life story,” she said. “He could be short with people at times, but he liked people. He always extended himself and made you feel comfortable and told you not to worry.”
“He gained much joy from and worked tirelessly to help his clients through the many problems and challenges of life,” wrote his son, Laurence V. Martick of Dillsburg, Pa., in a biographical profile of his father. “He never tired of listening to what people had to say and rarely spoke about himself. He acted as much as a life coach as he did an attorney and he represented generations of families.”
Mr. Martick made it a point of not learning how to use computers or email. He preferred to work strictly with paper.
“When he retired, we cleaned out his office and removed 26 tons of paper. He never threw anything away because he had the fear that he might need it again,” his son said in a telephone interview.
“He really didn’t want to retire and said he didn’t know how to retire. He didn’t travel, play golf or cards,” his son said. “He didn’t have any hobbies, and his work had been his vocation and avocation.”
The former longtime Mount Washington resident referred to his home in the 5600 block of Wexford Road as “Termite Mansion,” his son said.
Jim and Tru Ginsburg have been next-door neighbors since 1975.
“He was always there for you and was a great neighbor,” said Tru Ginsburg. “He loved to fix broken things and enjoyed manual labor. He liked taking care of stuff.”
“Alex was a very inquisitive person. If you were out with him for dinner, for instance, he’d ask the waiter, ‘What kind of whiskey do you drink?’ but not in a hostile way,” she said. “He liked to engage people in conversation and was definitely down home. He came from an interesting family to put it mildly.”
“Whenever the Martick family gathered, it was a trip in itself,” Mrs. Ginsburg said.
Mr. Martick liked to dine at his bother Morris Martick’s Restaurant Francais, which was located in the old family home at 215 W. Mulberry St. “It was his favorite restaurant,” his son said.
For nearly four decades, the colorful restaurant had been a center for years of bohemian nightlife in Baltimore, and was home away from home for several generations of writers, musicians, artists and newspaper reporters.
“Among musicians who performed there was Billie Holiday,” his son said.
“He liked things that began with ‘W’ — namely women and whiskey,” his son said.
“Because he had worked there as a bartender while going to law school, he liked going behind the bar to make his own drinks,” his son said. “He liked drink Bulleit bourbon on the rocks, old-fashions and rum and tonic with a slice of lemon or lime.”
“Alex loved to eat and had three drinks a day. His cardiologist said they were good for him,” Ms. Trusty said. “He also exercised three times a week.”
Mr. Martick was a lacrosse fan and liked attending Hopkins lacrosse games at Homewood Field with Mr. Ginsburg and several other friends. He also enjoyed listening to or attending Orioles games.
He enjoyed jazz, and for years took his son to concerts at the old Left Bank Jazz Society at the old Famous Ballroom on North Charles Street.
In 2016, Mr. Martick moved to Essex House, a senior living and retirement community in Laymoyne, Pa.
A celebration of life gathering for Mr. Martick will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Radisson Cross Keys, 100 Village Square, Baltimore.
In addition to his son, he is survived by a grandson. His companion of more than 30 years, Beverly Jett, died a day before he did. A daughter, Hillary Clare Martick, died in 1996. A marriage to the former Helen Goldstein ended in divorce.