R. Robert Linowes was born in 1922 in Trenton, New Jersey. He was a graduate of Hamilton College and Columbia Law School. He served as a German translator during World War II in Europe. He worked in the County Attorney’s office for two years before entering private practice. In 1956, he formed a law firm specializing in real estate development. In 1963, he asked me to join him to establish the firm of Linowes and Blocher, which, since its founding, has played a significant role in the growth of Montgomery County into a prosperous urban community.
Bob Linowes was a forceful and persuasive advocate of balancing growth with quality of life during the regional transition that has unfolded over the past 50 years. Through the publication of three books, which he co-authored, and numerous articles, he became a recognized expert on the issues of land-use planning and zoning and was widely sought for his progressive and pragmatic views on responsible development throughout the region.
Over the years, Bob Linowes made extraordinary contributions of dedicated service to numerous community, civic, and charitable organizations. As president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade in the late 1970’s, he helped expand the organization to open new avenues among the economic, social and governmental sectors. Concerned for the need to build bridges between the region’s many jurisdictions, he was a driving force in the formation of the Washington-Baltimore Regional Association.
In the fall of 1987, Governor William Donald Schaefer appointed Bob Linowes to chair the Maryland Commission on State Taxes and Tax Structure. This blue-ribbon panel of citizens undertook a comprehensive review on the manner in which the State raised and spent money. Following the Commission’s report, which was hailed for its analysis of the inequities of the State’s taxing and spending policies, Bob was described as an “evangelist” for the Commission’s proposals. He also served as Commissioner of the Maryland Aviation Commission appointed by Governor Parris Glendening.
The Baltimore Sun previously honored him as its “Marylander of the Year.” In an editorial tribute, the paper described Bob Linowes as the “ultimate Washingtonian.” Other honors included the Washingtonian magazine’s “Washingtonian of the Year,” and Greater Washington Board of Trade’s “Man of the Years.”
In the early 1980’s, he was credited with rescuing the Folger Shakespeare Theatre. He remained a dedicated supporter of the theater since that time. He was an enthusiastic backer for creation of the Strathmore Music Center. He teamed up with NBC4 television to produce the “Linowes Awards,” an annual presentation to honor the unsung heroes of the Washington community. He was formerly a trustee and staunch supporter of the Community Foundation of the Washington Area, a philanthropic organization.
Bob Linowes had a great sense of humor. He teamed up with Ernie Kovacs to put on a radio show in Trenton, New Jersey in the pre-television days. Kovacs went on to become a television comedian; Bob Linowes went on to become a lawyer.
In one zoning case, Bob Linowes hired a nationally recognized land use expert to testify before the County Council. The expert witness was to bring with him various land use maps showing the property and the intended zoning and use. He arrived late at Bob’s office before the hearing. When the witness arrived, he was intoxicated and the maps showed land in Virginia. Every lawyer has had similar experiences, but Bob Linowes had little time to change the maps and get his witness sober, but was still able to effectively present his case!
When Dr. John Solomon asked Bob Linowes to get the land that is now the Montgomery Mall Shopping Center zoned for commercial use, Bob drove out to see the property. It was a corn field, and the only access was two-lane Bells Mill Road. I-270 had not been built yet. How do you convince the County Council to rezone a cornfield to a commercial use? It took a Master Plan for the Cabin John Planning Area promoted by Bob Linowes to accomplish the results.
His legal knowledge, and particularly his innovation and creativity, was shared with those who had the privilege of being associated with him at Linowes and Blocher. Attorneys such as John Moore, Bill Cave and Jerry Hyatt who worked at the law firm went on to become judges of Maryland courts.
Bob Linowes resided in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ada, a native Washingtonian and accomplished artist, and four children: Robin Linowes Thomas of Sterling Virginia; Lisa Linowes Yates of New York, Julie Linowes Firth of New York, and Michael Linowes of New York. He is also survived by ten grandchildren.
Bob was a true friend, wonderful partner, consummate professional, and unique community leader. His presence and talents will be sorely missed.
Joseph P. Blocher