Evelyn W. Pasquier, who as a senior associate with the old Baltimore law firm of Frank, Bernstein, Conaway and Goldman played a pivotal role in the resolution of the Maryland savings and loan crisis of the mid-1980s, died April 24 in her sleep of unknown causes at her Symphony Center home on Bolton Hill. She was 83.
"Evelyn was my right-hand person when Gov. Harry R. Hughes asked me to take charge in all matters relating to Old Court Savings and Loan in 1985," said Shale D. Stiller, who is now a partner at DLA Piper.
"I had 10 lawyers, and there was so much legal work involved that it took two years. It was a complex and difficult case because there was so much paper, deals and lawsuits being filed. It was Evelyn who kept me out of trouble," said Mr. Stiller.
"What Evelyn knew, she knew all the way down, as we say. She was a very smart person," said Sandra P. Gohn, an estates and trust lawyer who had worked with Mrs. Pasquier at Frank, Bernstein, Conaway and Goldman, and is now with DLA Piper. "And she did not suffer fools gladly."
The daughter of Charles Wood Van Devander, a newspaperman, and Clare Greenspan Van Devander, a homemaker, Evelyn Wood Van Devander was born in New York City.
Mrs. Pasquier attended New York City public schools until moving to Arlington, Va., in 1941, when her father was named the New York Post's Washington bureau chief.
She was 11 when she matriculated at Arlington High School.
"She graduated from high school at 15, and her concerned parents were relieved when they found that the University of Delaware would accept her as a freshman at 15," said a son, Richard P. "Rick" Pasquier, a Philadelphia lawyer who lives in Wynnewood, Pa.
After earning a bachelor's degree in 1950 in chemistry from Delaware, she earned a master's degree in political science the next year from Columbia University.
During college summers, she worked for Roll Call, the official newspaper of Congress.
During the 1950s and into the early 1960s, when she began raising her family, Mrs. Pasquier worked at Compton Advertising and later J. Walter Thompson in New York City.
In 1959, she married Claude J. Pasquier, an immigrant who fled wartime France in 1942. He later was an executive with the Amecon Division of Litton Industries in College Park.
The couple raised their family in Morris Plains, N.J., Mendham, N.J., and East Northport, N.Y., before moving to Severna Park in 1974. Two years later, after her husband died of congestive heart failure, she decided to earn a law degree.
"She was 45 years old when she entered the University of Maryland law school in 1976, where she earned her law degree in 1980, edited the Law Review, and graduated Order of the Coif," her son said.
Mrs. Pasquier joined Frank, Bernstein, Conaway and Goldman in 1981. During her 25-year legal career, she handled many high-profile cases. Perhaps none was bigger than the 1985 failure of Old Court Savings and Loan, which precipitated a run on all state savings and loans, and the resultant collapse of the state-financed fund that insured state savings and loan deposits.
One of Mrs. Pasquier's immediate tasks was to sort through the tangled skein that made up Old Court's records.
"Shale and I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but we never imagined that it would be as extensive as it turned out to be," Mrs. Pasquier told Brian Sullam, who broke the S&L story in The Baltimore Sun, in a 1986 interview.
"At first, we didn't know what was going on in Old Court. But within four or five days, we got a pretty good idea that a lot of stealing had been going on," she said. "Just looking through the minute books and records of Old Court and its subsidiaries was revealing. I was surprised how there had been absolutely no attempt to cover up thievery."
In addition, Mrs. Pasquier was involved in the preparation of the $200 million civil suit the Maryland Deposit Insurance Fund Corp. filed against Jeffrey A. Levitt, former Old Court president, and 38 other defendants, most of which she wrote herself. She was involved in virtually all of the pleadings in the receivership case.
Levitt, a former slum landlord who had pursued an elaborate lifestyle and groomed his reputation as a charitable philanthropist while using stolen bank funds, was convicted and sentenced to 30 years for embezzling $14.6 million from Old Court. He was paroled in 1993 after serving eight years.
"Evelyn was in charge of billing during the Old Court case, and she was always telling lawyers who worked on the case that Frank, Bernstein was not an eleemosynary institution, and they were to bill for their time," Ms. Gohn said with a laugh.
Mrs. Pasquier's legal expertise was in the field of state and local tax cases.
"No one at the office knew more about state taxation than Evelyn," said Mr. Shiller. "She was a creative and intelligent lawyer who had an intense intellectual curiosity in learning new fields of law. That's why we were a perfect pair."
He described his former colleague, who joined DLA Piper in 1992, as having a "contagious personality."
"Evelyn was always cool and had a great personality," said Ms. Gohn.
The longtime Bolton Hill resident retired in 2006.
She enjoyed traveling, and attending lectures and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts.
Her major charitable interest, her son said, was the University of Maryland School of Law.
There are no services.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Pasquier is survived by another son, Peter C. Pasquier of McKinney, Texas; a daughter, Clare Peterson of Overlea; and six grandchildren.