Seymour Stern, the unofficial mayor of Frederick and a former president of the Maryland State Bar Association, died Aug. 10 of heart disease at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 85.
Mr. Stern was born in Baltimore and moved to Frederick as a young boy. His father, Herman Stern, was a cutter for a clothing company. His mother, Minnie Stern, owned and operated Place 44, a clothing store on South Market Street in Frederick that was destroyed in a flood in 1972.
Mr. Stern graduated from Frederick High School in 1956, Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1960, and what is today the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 1963.
While Mr. Stern was a law student in the fall of 1961, he met his future wife, Lee Stern, by chance as they passed each other outside a dress store in Frederick. He was picking up Colts tickets while she, a nursing student at the time, was shopping with her parents. He asked her cousin, who owned the store, for her number a few days later. They married Oct. 3, 1964, in her hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
“Something about me just caught his eye, and I never looked back,” Lee Stern, who worked as a nurse at Frederick Memorial Hospital, said. “We were a team.”
Mr. Stern practiced law in Frederick for nearly 60 years. A general practitioner for Frederick families, businesses and farmers, he kept the the same phone number his entire career. He was paid in dollars, tomatoes and dinners, and was an active member of Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia.
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“I came home one day and he’s got a bag of corn and tomatoes and a thank-you note for a client, somebody would pay him in dinner. He was a big fish in the small town,” his son Steven Stern said. “The rabbi would call our house and say, ‘One of our congregants needs this or that,’ and Dad would go, ‘OK, Rabbi. Yes, I’ll call them.’”
Mr. Stern helped found the Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers in 1976 to help lawyers expand their practices and led that organization until 1990, when he became president of the Maryland State Bar Association. Outside work, he took his kids to Orioles games and played golf. He was also a member of the Rotary Club of Frederick and a board member at Frederick Community College and Frederick Health.
Around Frederick, he sponsored youth baseball teams and shopped locally. The Tasting Room downtown once named a crabcake after him.
“My dad loved giving the 15-minute tour of Frederick that would take about an hour and a half or two hours,” Steven Stern said. “He was like an economic development officer. He loved to show off the progress. One of the reasons he was the honorary mayor was he was constantly promoting the city. He loved to sell Frederick.”
Mr. Stern would point out the clustered spires, the old synagogue and the new synagogue, the site of his mom’s old store, the fairgrounds, what used to be what, and where friends lived.
“It was a walking tour and a riding tour through the entire town,” colleague and friend Ted Offit said. “He loved family, practicing law and Frederick.”
Mr. Stern is survived by his wife; his three sons, Steven Stern of Baltimore, Adam Stern of Philadelphia and Eric Stern of Philadelphia; and five grandchildren.