Robert G. Levy, who pursued careers in law and academia and who was an accomplished Chesapeake Bay and coastal sailor, died Jan. 29 from pancreatic cancer at his Roland Park home.
He was 85.
“We were law partners and we sailed together for 50 years,” said Max E. Blumenthal of Mount Washington. “He was a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and took on very complex cases. He litigated against major companies and was very proud of his work.”
“I met Bob in 1986 when he hired me right out of college to help him with an antitrust case he was trying against IBM in Philadelphia,” said Kevin Pascale of Towson, a lawyer and a partner in the Canton law firm of Pascale Stevens LLC.
“Bob was what would be called a Renaissance man. He was equally at home in a federal courtroom or in front of the Supreme Court arguing the finer points of antitrust law as he was at the helm of his beloved sailboat, Tryst, navigating a blue-water passage,” said Mr. Pascale.
Robert Gene Levy, who was born in Baltimore and raised on Park Heights Avenue, was the son of Roger Karl Levy, a businessman, and Anna Levy, a homemaker.
“My dad’s life was marked by the murder of his father, a modest but generous man, who owned Levy’s Shoes on Eastern Avenue,” wrote Dr. Rachel Katherine Levy-Lombara, of Chappaqua, N.Y., in a profile of her father.
“He was stabbed to death in his store during a robbery. The killer was never found and the case haunted my Dad through much of his life,” she wrote.
In his youth, Mr. Levy attained Eagle Scout status, his daughter said.
After graduating from City College in 1950, Mr. Levy earned a bachelor’s degree in 1954 from Dartmouth College. He began doctoral studies in history at the Johns Hopkins University before being drafted into the Navy in 1955.
Discharged from the Navy in 1957, he decided to study law and entered the University of Virginia School of Law, from which he earned his law degree in 1960.
In 1961, he joined the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department, which was headed by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
“They enjoyed tossing a football back and forth while discussing cases,” his daughter said.
While at the Department of Justice, he worked on several major cases, including U.S. v. Grinnell, “the seminal Supreme Court decision defining the offense of monopolization, and U.S. v. American Natural Gas et al., a criminal conspiracy designed to prevent the importation into the United States of natural gas from the Alberta [Canada] fields,” according to an online profile of Mr. Levy.
In 1964 Mr. Levy joined the antitrust department of the Baltimore law firm of Frank, Bernstein, Conaway & Goldman, where he was later named partner.
He successfully litigated a case that, according to The Baltimore Sun in a 1977 article, illuminated a 10-year conspiracy of “Crown Central Petroleum Corp., Amerada Hess Corp., Ashland Oil Co., Kayo Oil Co., the Meadville Corp., Petroleum Marketing Corp., and the trade group known as the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America,” to fix wholesale prices of gasoline, worth about $4 billion, in the Mid-Atlantic states, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
“The lawyers are Robert G. Levy, whom Judge [Alexander] Harvey [2d] singled out for praise, Beryl A. Speer, Peter H. Gunst, George W. Maugans, Allan P. Hillman and Michael P. Waxman,” The Sun reported.
“When he was working on major cases he was very intense, demanding and had very high standards,” said Mr. Blumenthal, who is now a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Stewart Plant and Blumenthal. “He had the loyalty of those who worked with him. He was a very good lawyer.”
Mr. Levy also had a lighter side.
“He was a great kidder, and he wanted you to give back as good as you got,” Mr. Blumenthal said.
“He loved to tell this story. He was in Alaska litigating a case when the 1964 earthquake struck. Bob said he was lying in bed on the top floor, which was the third floor,” he said. “He said he woke up in the lobby, still in the bed. He was a character. They don’t make them like that anymore.”
After retiring in 1990, Mr. Levy served as counsel to the Washington law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan for eight years.
From 1990 to 2008, he conducted the antitrust law seminar at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies in Washington.
Mr. Levy, who also taught economics, was also a visiting professor at the Pericles Law Center in Moscow, Tallinn Law School in Estonia, and Vilnius University in Lithuania, where he taught antitrust law and American constitutional law.
Mr. Levy took an Amtrak train one day a week to New Haven, Conn., to teach at Yale University, his daughter said.
“His life was full of adventure and exploration, from working at the U.S. Justice Department under Robert F. Kennedy, where he started his career, to Yale, where he later taught law and economics, and Vilnius, Lithuania, where he also lectured, and where at the time of his death, he still had many dear friends,” Mr. Pascale said.
The former Catonsville resident, who had lived at Drohomer Place in North Roland Park for 60 years, developed an interest in the outdoors, skiing and rowing while a student at Dartmouth.
Mr. Levy, who enjoyed spending summers aboard his 32-foot sailboat, the Tryst, kept his sailboats in a boatyard in Oxford, where his daughter has a second home.
“He was a lover of the Chesapeake Bay and enjoyed exploring the Eastern Shore aboard his boat,” his daughter wrote.
“I think his greatest joy was sailing and we did that together until last year,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “He had a group of people aboard his boat, which he sailed with and called them the Explorer’s Club. We went up and down the Chesapeake Bay and to Maine, Florida and up and down the East Coast. It was a lot of fun.”
“And if he was not in the middle of an adventure, he would create one, whether it was a trip to the Santee and Cooper rivers in South Carolina to fish or rounding up a group of friends for a fortnight sail to Miami of Florida on the Intracoastal Waterway,” Mr. Pascale said. “I was lucky to have been on a few of those trips.”
Gifted with an agile mind and a passion for the markets and investing, Mr. Levy handled accounts for many of his friends.
“He loved things that were quality and not subject to fads and hence would often be seen sporting Orvis and L.L. Bean shirts, jackets and suspenders,” his daughter wrote. “He was handsome and stylish.”
She said her father was “loyal” to many Baltimore businesses, some of which included Eddie Jacobs, Eddie’s food market and a “list of restaurants too long for me to remember.”
She said her father liked to describe himself as a “humanist,” even though he had been born and raised Jewish, and “he hated discrimination and injustice.”
Mr. Levy was also known for being generous with his time and resources.
“In the month before his death, he heard that an old friend had fallen on hard times. My Dad, extremely weak, went out to purchase and deliver a car to the man,” She wrote. “My dear, sweet father would drop anything and everything to help someone in need. I am so proud of him for that.”
“I don’t know how my life would have turned out had I not met Bob, but I do know I would not have been a lawyer and I would have missed out having a great friend,” Mr. Pascale said.
Funeral services for Mr. Levy will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Sol Levinson & Bros., at 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Richard Levy of Galesville, a brother, Dr. Bernard Levy, of Newton, Mass.; and four grandsons. Five marriages ended in divorce.