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William C. Stifler III, lawyer and former chief real estate solicitor for Baltimore, dies

William C. Stifler III, lawyer and former chief real estate solicitor for Baltimore, dies
William C. Stifler III had been chief real estate solicitor for the city of Baltimore. (Baltimore Sun / Handout)

William C. Stifler III, a retired lawyer who had been chief real estate solicitor for the city of Baltimore, died Friday of complications from dementia at Symphony Manor assisted living in Roland Park. He was 74.

"Bill was a terrific guy and a very good lawyer whose concentration was real estate law. He brought to his practice legal principles and an ability to solve business problems in a most efficient way," said Cleaveland D. Miller, principal and chairman of Semmes, Bowen & Semmes. "He was just a fine person."

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"He handled significant and challenging deals with good cheer," said City Solicitor George Nilson. "He was just a lovely and delightful gentleman."

William Curtis Stifler III, the son of pediatricians Dr. William C. Stifler Jr. and Dr. Jean Rose Stifler, was born in Baltimore and raised in Roland Park.

After graduating in 1959 from Gilman School, where he captained the baseball team and played varsity basketball and football, he began studies at Yale University.

He transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1964. After graduating from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1967, he clerked for Maryland Court of Appeals Judge William J. McWilliams.

He joined the Baltimore law firm of Niles, Barton & Wilmer in 1968, where he worked for nearly two decades. He subsequently practiced with Weinberg & Green and Semmes, Bowen & Semmes, until being named chief real estate solicitor for the city of Baltimore in 2004.

He retired in 2011.

"He was an experienced lawyer who handled many major deals," recalled Mr. Nilson. "He was well liked by the people he worked with in the department."

"He enjoyed his job with the city," said Mr. Miller. "He was a charming and delightful person, and his clients and the people he worked with loved him."

"Billy was deeply committed to the intellectual and ethical pursuit of the law and served for 15 years as secretary of the Character Committee of the Maryland State Bar," said his wife of 32 years, the former Ellen Keats, who is executive director of development at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"There was no one who was more appropriate to serve as secretary to the Character Committee of the Maryland State Bar Association than Bill Stifler," said Mr. Nilson.

Mr. Stifler was active in numerous civic, educational and museum organizations, and served on such nonprofit boards as Maryland Prisoners Aid, the Baltimore Montessori Charter School, the Baltimore Museum of Industry and Gilman School. He had been president of the Hampden Family Center for many years.

During the 1980s, he was president of the Roland Park Little League, where his children played baseball.

Beginning when he was a young boy, Mr. Stifler spent summers at the family home on Isle au Haut in Maine.

"His love for the beauty and wildness of the Maine coast also marked some of the happiest times in his life," said Mrs. Stifler.

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Mr. Stifler also maintained a deep interest in the history of the American South and read extensively about its political, economic and racial history.

He was also interested in the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 that inundated Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana. Of the 630,000 people who were affected by the flood, some 200,000 African-Americans were displaced by it and forced to live in relief camps.

Mr. Stifler was a fan of the blues.

"Billy liked traveling through the South, and we even drove through the Mississippi Delta and visited the home of blues singer Robert Johnson who lived in Clarksdale, Miss.," said his wife.

Mr. Stifler was a longtime member of the Maryland Club and the Wednesday Law Club.

He was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the church chapel.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Stifler is survived by a son, William C. Stifler of Towson; a daughter, Sarah L. Stifler of Los Angeles; a stepson, James W. Sibal of New Orleans; a stepdaughter, Allison S. Baker of Towson; two brothers, Dr. Robert Stifler of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Dr. David Stifler of Essex Junction, Vt.; and seven grandchildren. An earlier marriage to Ann D. Dandridge ended in divorce.

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