Former delegate, judge, lawyer and lobbyist Edgar P. Silver, known simply as “the Judge,” passed away Tuesday at age 91.
Born July 1, 1923, Silver served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1955 to 1965, when he was appointed to the Baltimore City Municipal Court. Later, he was appointed to the Maryland District Court in Baltimore and the Baltimore City Supreme Bench, which became the Baltimore City Circuit Court.
“He was a judge of great decency, a lawyer of great respect and an individual who only saw the best in others, and that’s a very rare combination,” said Alan Rifkin, of Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver LLC.
Rifkin said his friendship with Silver, who helped found the firm and served as of counsel, dated back three decades to Rifkin’s time as counsel to former Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller described Silver as a mentor who cherished time spent with his family.
“He loved to talk, he loved to tell stories, he loved to be with people,” Miller said. “If you had him as a friend, you couldn’t have a better friend.”
Silver attended Talmudical Academy and graduated from Baltimore City College and the University of Baltimore. He served in the U.S. Maritime Service during World War II before earning his law degree from the Mount Vernon School of Law, which later merged into the University of Baltimore School of Law.
He was appointed to the municipal court by Gov. J. Millard Tawes, and to the circuit court by acting Gov. Blair Lee III in 1977. He left the bench in 1988.
While presiding over a courtroom, Silver’s humility and his respect for the defendants who stood before him were notable, many friends and colleagues said.
Former Court of Appeals Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr., now a member at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White LLC, recalled the first time he saw Silver speak with defendants as a judge on the Municipal Court.
“He treated each one of them with such dignity and respect — I will never forget it. It was like each one was attorney general of the United States,” said Murphy, who was working as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau at the time. “It was so astounding to me. I remember saying to myself, ‘That’s the way a judge should treat people.’”
That attitude made an impression on the many young lawyers who entered Silver’s courtroom, Murphy added.
“He taught a generation of lawyers how to be advocates while still practicing with professionalism and civility,” he said.
Murphy and many other people Silver worked with in his various judicial and legal roles later became good friends with the former judge. Several also spoke of his thoughtfulness and knack for remembering the details of his many friends’ and acquaintances’ lives.
“He knew your family, he knew who your kids were, he knew what was on your mind,” Rifkin said. “He really lived his life, in many respects, by two sayings. He used to always say, ‘The best is yet to come,’ and ‘You never trade your old friends for new ones; you just keep adding on.’ I’ve never run across anyone who didn’t think the world of him.”
Services will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc. on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.