Edward O. Clarke Jr. was an attorney for Piper and Marbury.
Edward O. Clarke Jr. was an attorney for Piper and Marbury. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Edward O. Clarke Jr., an attorney for Piper and Marbury who helped craft the legal documents for bonds that financed numerous infrastructure and building projects around Maryland, died Feb. 27 in Winchester, Va., of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 86.

Mr. Clarke drafted contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars that allowed the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to refinance its debt, for Towson University to build a student union, and for the construction of the Key Bridge and the Fort McHenry Tunnel.


"He was the dean of the municipal bond legal work in the mid-Atlantic area," said Jim Cavanaugh, a former colleague and longtime friend of Mr. Clarke. "It takes a very skillful hand to craft the legal language to the contracts to make them acceptable to both parties," the issuers and the underwriters.

Mr. Clarke was born and raised in Baltimore to Edward Owen Clarke Sr., an accountant for Bethlehem Steel, and Agnes Oakford Clarke, a homemaker. He attended Loyola High School, now Loyola Blakefield, where he graduated in 1947, said his wife of 61 years, Pearl "Penny" Clarke. He graduated from Loyola University Maryland and the University of Maryland, where he got his law degree.

He served in the U.S. Navy, where he was stationed in Norfolk, Va., and rose to the rank of lieutenant. It was there he met his future wife, and asked her father for her phone number. He nicknamed her "Penny," and the name stuck.

The couple had four children. Mrs. Clarke worked as a court reporter and an assistant referee in bankruptcy for the federal court system, and as an acupuncturist.

Mr. Clarke spent much of his free time reading and studying various subjects, and enjoyed debating "anything you brought up" around the dinner table with family and friends, his wife said. With an analytical mind, Mr. Clarke spent time after his retirement studying evidence of the existence of God. "He settled the issue of God's existence before he left," Mrs. Clarke said. "God's there."

"He was on the debate teams in school, and he excelled there, and I think that he realized that law would give him that opportunity to continue that," Mrs. Clarke said. "He loved to debate, and he continued that right up until he went to the hospital the last time."

At Piper and Marbury, the predecessor of global law firm DLA Piper, Mr. Clarke served as a managing partner and helped establish the firm's public finance practice.

Mr. Clarke "had a great sense of humor, though some would say it was frequently hidden by a stern visage and outspoken intolerance for incompetence," Stewart Diana, a colleague, wrote in an email message to DLA Piper employees. "Omitting or misplacing a decimal point in a multimillion dollar bond form was not going to happen on his watch!"

Mr. Clarke also wrote the laws that created the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority and the Maryland Health and Higher Educational Facilities Authority, which financed numerous buildings and infrastructure, including newer buildings for the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Paul A. Tiburzi, a Baltimore managing partner at DLA Piper, said Mr. Clarke served as a mentor to him and to others.

"Edward Clarke was not only a world class lawyer and exceptional leader but also a perceptive and inspirational mentor who helped launch and guide the careers of many young lawyers at our firm," Tiburzi said.

Mr. Clarke also served more than a decade as chairman of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, served on the board of St. Mary's College of Maryland, and was a founding member of the Center Club in Baltimore. He served on the boards of Bon Secours Hospital, Hospital Cost Analysis Service, the Municipal Bond Club of Baltimore Inc., the Maryland Hospital Association Board of Presidents, the Hannah Moore Center, Loyola High School, Helix Health and MedStar Health.

After his retirement, he and Mrs. Clarke boated down to Florida and back, spending weeks at a time living on their Kadey-Krogen yacht. He also enjoyed model trains after his retirement. The couple had homes in Sarasota, Fla., and Winchester, Va., after his retirement.

"He just was a person who you could truly say was bigger than life, because he was so versed in so many things," Mrs. Clarke said.


Catherine Ann Clarke, his daughter, said her father gave her and her siblings a good sense of direction in life.

"He was a very strong leadership presence in my life," said Clarke, of Lutherville. "He taught me to take things as they come, and to always persevere, and sometimes when life gets hard you have to just keep going."

Services are private

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Clarke is survived by a son, Edward O. Clarke III of Hampstead; two other daughters, Deborah Clarke of Sudbury, Mass., and Carolyn Clarke Gartner of Winchester, Va.; a brother, James O. Clarke, of New Hampshire; six grandchildren; a niece and two nephews.

An earlier version misstated information about the services and the name of a surviving daughter. The Sun regrets the errors.