Henry R. “Harry” Lord, a retired lawyer whose interests ranged from civic, cultural and environmental affairs to writing, baseball and long backpacking treks through the woods with his wife of more than 50 years, died Monday of cardiac arrest at his Reisterstown home. The former Bolton Hill resident was 84.
“The essence of Harry Lord was his curiosity about everything that was around him,” said Peter A. Jay, a longtime close friend, writer and former Baltimore Sun editorial page columnist. “He would have made a great reporter because he always wanted to know what was happening and the people who were making it happen.”
“Harry was a dapper and erudite litigator but also an explorer in sandals and shorts 10 miles from the nearest water,” Stan Heuisler, a writer and former Baltimore Magazine editor, wrote in an email. “He was damned good at and damned happy at both.”
“A large segment of people admired him,” said Joseph M. Coale, a writer-historian, and former chief of staff to the late Gov. Harry R. Hughes. “He came from a prominent family and was on track for a time to become governor but I don’t think he had the stomach for politics.”
Considered a maverick by family and friends, Henry Robbins Lord, son of Charles Goodspeed Lord, a Baker, Watts & Co. investment banker, and Muriel Gallagher Lord, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and spent his early years in Cockeysville before moving with his parents and brother, Charles Van den Berg Lord, to Roland Park.
“Harry and his brother ‘Chick,’ contemporaries to me and my brother Phil, were next door neighbors on Longwood Road,” Mr. Heuisler wrote. “There was a tin can and string telephone between our houses.”
He attended Roland Park Elementary School and was a 1956 graduate of Gilman School. After earning a bachelor's degree in 1960 from Princeton University, Mr. Lord obtained his law degree in 1963 from the University of Virginia School of Law.
After serving a clerkship for the state Court of Appeals Judge William L. Henderson, Mr. Lord started practicing law in 1964 with Venable, Baetjer & Howard, and in 1967 was elected to a one-year term as a Baltimore delegate to the state Constitutional Convention.
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While serving in Annapolis, he met and fell in love with the former Sarah Fenno Williams, a convention worker.
“I was a lowly administrative assistant and Harry, who loved baseball, caught me playing catch one day in the basement of the State House with an AP reporter,” said Ms. Lord, who later wrote for The Sun. “We were married in the Washington National Cathedral 30 years to the day after my parents were also married, June 21, 1969.”
He was admitted to practice in 1968 before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the next year before the U.S. Supreme Court where he successfully argued several cases and became a lifelong student of its opinions.
From 1968 to 1971, Mr. Lord was assistant U.S. Attorney for Maryland, and deputy attorney general under Attorney General Francis B. “Bill” Burch from 1971 to 1976, when he resigned and returned to private practice at Piper & Marbury.
His tenure in the attorney general’s office coincided with the rooting out and conviction of former Baltimore County State’s Attorney Samuel A. Greene Jr. and Alfred R. “Skip” Carey, former chief of the state’s $1.1 billion public school construction program who pleaded guilty to forgery and stealing $22,000 in state school construction funds.
In an article at the time of his resignation, The Sun noted Mr. Lord as having “killer instinct of persistence and determination required of a prosecutor handling a complex fraud investigation.”
“Of the many lawyers who have served with me since my election 19 years ago, Harry is one of the most brilliant and dedicated,” Mr. Burch told The Sun. “His departure will be a great loss to the state Law Department.”
In 2006, Mr. Lord was named partner at DLP Piper LLP, where he remained until retiring in 2019.
“I adored him and he was one of the stars,” said Shale D. Stiller, a longtime DLP Piper LLP partner, colleague and friend for more than 50 years.
“He was a great lawyer whose knowledge broke out into every field — music, art, the humanities — simply everything — and had an incredible mind and creative energy when it came to looking at issues that others hadn’t even thought about,” Mr. Stiller said.
A tall reedy man with a shock of sandy hair that rose untamed like a single ocean wave from one side of his head to the other, and piercing intense eyes, he had a penchant for hand-tied bow ties and conservative suits
Mr. Lord’s civic and cultural life was as rich, full and successful as his legal one.
The former Bare Hills resident had been a member of Historic Annapolis board; appointed in 1979 to the Baltimore County Planning Board where he served until 1982; and was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland System from 1988 to 1991.
His deep love of music led him in 1975 to become a trustee of the Peabody Institute, and subsequently was secretary from 1977 to 1980, vice chair in 1980; and chair four years later.
He also had played a pivotal role in the 1976 transfer of the Mount Vernon Place conservatory into the hands of the Johns Hopkins University. From 1967 to 1983, he also was a member of the Baltimore Symphony board.
Mr. Lord was a collector of books on a variety of subjects including the works of H.L. Mencken, and from 2004 to 2014, was president of the Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy Inc. During that time Mencken’s home in Southwest Baltimore was restored and opened to the public.
“He led the effort to buy or lease the house from the city. While the city decided in the end not to sell the house, it has been beautifully restored in 2019 thanks to a generous endowment to the museum by a Mencken fan and reopened since then,” said Brigitte V. Fessenden, president of the society.
Mr. Lord and his wife, who lived in a rowhouse in the 1400 block of Park Avenue, turned their home into a salon and were known for their dinner parties.
“He collected interesting art, notable books and music of every stripe, bright minds, amusing raconteurs, interesting women, wild characters, historians, baseball junkies, and excellent doctors,” Ms. Lord wrote in a profile of her husband.
It was not unusual for Mr. Lord to track down favorite writers and initiate a conversation that blossomed into a relationship.
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“Harry was also deeply involved in his Princeton class’s Sachs Scholarship Program, which sent remarkable students like Dan-el Padilla Peralta, professor classics at Princeton, and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to Oxford University for a postgraduate year,” Ms. Lord said.
Desiring a more rural life, he and his wife sold their Bolton Hill home and moved to Dover Road in Reisterstown.
He was an avid bird-watcher and could be found roaming Lake Roland Park with his wife.
As an outdoorsman, kayaker and environmentalist, he and his wife paddled Western Maryland’s white water Youghiogheny River, hiked in Yosemite, along Hadrian’s Wall, in Tibet, bicycled around Sicily, skied everywhere, parachuted out of airplanes, and was an accomplished sailor.
“An urbane, interesting gentleman who led a full and interesting life, and was a loyal friend,” wrote Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, a noted Mencken scholar, author and friend in an email.
Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Lord is survived by his daughter, Hannah B. Lord of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania; two grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.