Paul J. Feeley, public defender

Paul J. Feeley

Paul Joseph Feeley Sr., a former Baltimore County public defender and a Towson attorney died June 15 at St. Joseph Medical Center after suffering a fall at his Timonium home. He was 86.

Born in Baltimore and raised on West Fayette Street and on Guilford Avenue, he was a 1942 Loyola High School graduate.


He attended what is now Loyola University Maryland for two years and then joined the Army Air Forces during World War II. He spent most of his time in the service in Walla Walla, Wash., training as a bombardier, family members said.

After the war, he resumed his studies at Loyola and earned a degree in 1948. He was junior class president and played varsity basketball. Mr. Feeley remained active in the school's alumni group and was the college's alumni association president in 1960.


Mr. Feeley earned a degree at the University of Maryland School of Law in 1952 and began his private law practice, including criminal law, in 1958. He was named an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore County in 1959 and held the post until 1962. He then became assistant county solicitor.

"He was outgoing and an effervescent kind of person," said former Baltimore County Councilman Francis "Frank" Barrett of Mays Chapel. "Whether in school, in the law courts or playing ball, he was methodical."

In late 1971, Alan H. Murrell, the Maryland public defender, named Mr. Feeley to the post of Baltimore County public defender, a newly created position.

"At the time, it was a controversial concept to provide counsel to the accused and alleged criminals who could not afford a lawyer," said a friend, Tom Toporovich, former secretary to the Baltimore County Council who lives in Dundalk. "Paul was conscientious in his new and exciting task. He was low-key and believed in getting the job done without fanfare. He was a remarkable guy in a family of remarkable public service."

In 1984, he stepped down from the post. In a Baltimore Sun interview at the time, he recalled that some of those he defended "had an absolute lack of remorse for anything they've done." He continued, "They are so callous, so young, incredibly so, and they talk about murder the way other people talk about shoplifting."

Mr. Feeley's first wife, of 21 years, the former Peggy Prenger, died in 1970.

He married Anna Barthelme, a longtime friend, in 1972, and became a stepfather to her children. They celebrated 25 years of marriage before her death in 1997.

While a student at SS. Philip and James Parochial School, Mr. Feeley became involved with a poker club with his neighborhood chums. They played for pennies. He and his friends kept the club going while in high school and college and recruited others until 12 belonged. They met every other Thursday night and later became known as Every Other Thursday With Few Exceptions.

The members would meet for a week in Ocean City. Their spouses accompanied them and socialized on their own, family members said. Several marriages could trace their origins to the club, according to a 1992 Sun article that detailed Mr. Feeley's role in the club.

In 2008, when three members were left, the club disbanded.

A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. July 7 at Villa Assumpta, 6401 N. Charles St.

Survivors include his wife of 15 years, Joan Fowler Feeley; three sons, Paul J. Feeley Jr. of Timonium, Kevin Feeley of Sparks and Dennis Feeley of Rodgers Forge; three daughters, Tresa Hanna of Parkville, Elise Drewes of Hanover and Mary Pat Casella of Parkville; two sisters, Sister Kathleen Feeley and Sister Therese Feeley of the School Sisters of Notre Dame of Baltimore; and nine grandchildren.


Survivors also include five stepsons, Patrick Barthelme of Lutherville, Gary Barthelme of Seattle, Bryan Barthelme of Mechanicsville, Marty Barthelme of Jackson, Miss., and Neal Barthelme of Towson; and a stepdaughter, Mary Kim Coaplin of Laurel.

Other survivors include his wife's children: her sons, Thomas Fowler and Chip Fowler, both of Bel Air; Timothy Fowler of Phoenix, Ariz., and Daniel Fowler of New Jersey; her daughters, Kathie Ladd and Michelle Morrison, both of Greenville, S.C., Janice Legin of Raleigh, N.C., Janinne Rodgers of Lutherville and Kelly Menzel of Timonium.

Mr. Feeley is also survived by 11 grandchildren of his second wife, Anna, and 19 grandchildren of his wife, Joan.

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