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Memorial-Prettyman, Charles W.
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Charles W. Prettyman
April 19, 1915 – February 19, 1968  

Mr. Jacobs: In memory of the late Charles W. Prettyman I would like to call upon David E. Betts, Esquire. 

Mr. Betts: If it pleases the Court, friends and relatives of Charley Prettyman: Charles Wesley Prettyman was born in Rockville, Maryland, on April 19, 1915. He died on February 19, 1968, after suffering his second heart attack in approximately as many months. 

     He received his early education in the Rockville public schools and was graduated with high honors from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, in 1936. He received his law degree from the University of Maryland in 1939 and immediately undertook the practice of law in the office where his father was then practicing and where his grandfather before him had also practiced. 

     He served during World War II with the U. S. Air Force, the Air Transport Command, starting in Wilmington, Delaware, several other bases, and later in Miami at the Officer Candidate School. He was subsequently honorably discharged because of injuries which he received there and he returned to Rockville and entered again into the practice of law. 

     He was appointed I believe in 1944 as an assistant State’s Attorney by Joseph B. Simpson, Mr., who was then the State’s Attorney, where he served with distinction until 1946. At that time he was the unsuccessful candidate in the election for State’s Attorney, being defeated by the late Walter W. Dawson, his very good friend, in what was at that time a Republican landslide.

     Charley Prettyman was the third in a long line of outstanding Maryland lawyers. His grandfather, also Charles W. Prettyman, practiced in Rockville for many years, later being joined by his son, Mr. William F. Prettyman, who discontinued the practice of law – I believe is the way he put it – in 1946 but who has continued to live a very active life here in the community. 

     The name of “Prettyman” throughout the State of Maryland has for three generations been synonymous with honor and integrity and tremendous legal ability. His great grandfather was E. Barrett Prettyman who although not a lawyer was Clerk of this Court for many years. Those who do title work I am sure are familiar with the initials “EBP” on the old libers running back in the 1860s and 1870s. His first cousin once removed was E. Barrett Prettyman, a Judge in the District of Columbia and very well known throughout the State of Maryland, also. 

     Charley Prettyman had an outstanding legal mind, as I believe everyone on the Bench is well aware from having practiced either with him or against him or sitting on cases where he was involved. For many years he was local counsel for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and for more than twenty years counsel for the Board of Education. 

     I think one of the last large matters which he handled for the Board was obtaining an injunction which was very instrumental in settling the teachers’ strike. I am sure that that did not improve his health at that time, because he had suffered a previous heart attack and this particular strain might have been responsible for bringing on his death earlier than it would otherwise have been. 

     I had what I consider to be the very good fortune of practicing, not as a partner with Charley Prettyman but in close association with him, in his father’s building on South Perry Street. When I got out of the Army in 1946 he was instrumental in finding me a desk and a chair to put behind it in the only office I believe that was available in the city of Rockville, and that was in Mr. William Prettyman’s library. So we did have an opportunity to work together very closely over the years. 

     Charley was quiet. Like Whaley Dawson he had a tremendous heart. I never heard him raise his voice in anger to or about anybody. His hobby, I believe the greatest hobby that he had, was hunting. He loved to get out with his dogs and, I suppose you could say poetically, “commune with Nature,” which was certainly something that he did; and I think that it went right along with his personality and his quiet wisdom and intelligence. 

     He could analyze a legal problem quicker and better than almost anyone I have ever known. I felt that he was a very close personal friend. I feel his loss very deeply, and the Bar of this County and this State has lost an outstanding lawyer. 

     Thank you.

 

Mr. Jacobs. In further memory of Charles W. Prettyman I should like to call upon Joseph B. Simpson, Esquire. 

Mr. Simpson. With the Court’s permission?

Judge Shook. Mr. Simpson. 

Mr. Simpson. To the Court and the members of the Bar and to the family of the late Charles Prettyman I state that as a lawyer one is frequently called upon to do service some of which is very difficult, and it is a great difficulty for me to speak to this Bench and to this Bar and to this family about the passing of Charles Wesley Prettyman. 

     As Mr. Betts has mentioned to you in the memorial service which officially prepared on behalf of the Bar, Charles Prettyman came from and was a member of one of the truly distinguished legal families of all time in this county. He did not fail in the great propagation that a young man who had that reputation to live on would have. He not only did not fail, Your Honors, but he added to the illustrious name of Prettyman as lawyers, and there have been distinguished judges as mentioned, in this State and in the general area of this county. 

     I was fortunate when elected State’s Attorney for this county and, after Mr. Prettyman became available to render service to the county, like most State’s Attorneys I am sure I had relatively the pick of the field, I could have picked anybody I wanted. There was nobody that I wanted except Charles Prettyman. He was hesitant to take it, but he did.

      I was at that time, I always have been and I am now, grateful that he accepted the responsibility of being the Assistant State’s Attorney. And he acquitted himself in the greatest professional dignity and honor in the interests of the State of any man that I know of. 

     He was not a mean man in any sense of the word. He was a very compassionate, thoughtful man, compelled by one thing and one thing alone, and that was his duty to the bar, to the bench, and to the interest that he represented with full and complete representation; but never at any time taking any advantage of position against anyone, either an advocate on the other side or an individual on the other side. 

     Mr. Betts mentioned to the Court his interest in hunting, and I am not a hunter but I remember very well going out with him and seeing him set out young birds, and talking with him about his great interest in that. 

     But my interest in Charles Prettyman was the interest that one lawyer has in another one who he really frankly believes is a better lawyer. Such ability or reputation as my term of office has, when it is recorded among the history of this jurisdiction, will be largely attributable in my judgment – and I am conscious that these words are being recorded, and I want them recorded – but part of that record and a large percentage of that record, or the good portion of it, will be that of Charles Prettyman. And to his family, his great father and his friends on this Bench and at this Bar: I know that if the lawyers who come before the Bar and the Bench live up to the committed principles of Charles W. Prettyman there will be no failure in our system of justice but that it must improve. 

     Thank you.

 

Mr. Jacobs. In further memory of the late Charles W. Prettyman I would like to call Alger Y. Barbee, Esquire. 

Mr. Barbee. May it please the Court, Judge Anderson, Mr. Prettyman, Mr. Chairman: on this sad and commemorative occasion I have been honored by the Association to be permitted to say some words on behalf of my good friend, Charles W. Prettyman. 

     I met Charles in high school here in Rockville. It was known then as the Rockville High School. We were not in the same class but he, Dr. Calvin Linton who is now dean of the Columbian College of the George Washington College, and I were the closest of pals. I got to know Charles very well then. I knew that he excelled in his studies in high school; as I said I was not in the same class, but he was most outstanding. 

     I was graduated a year, I believe it was one year, before Charles was from the Rockville High School, and then of course our paths were required to be separated. We went to different colleges and then to different law schools. Then we joined one another back in Rockville for the practice of law, both of us green beginners, and beginning the practice of law then was a real turmoil. But Charles and I would see one another daily to exchange ideas, new experiences in the Police Court as it was called then where we went frequently and occasionally in Circuit Court. 

     But our association, then a daily association for two or three years, was interrupted by each of us being required to go into the military service and we did not join one another back in Rockville until about 1946. 

     Reverting to the school days, there are so many good things that have been said and so many more that can be said about Charles; but Charles showed his caliber and his talent in school when it was recognized by Dr. Broome, Superintendent of Schools, that Charles in the elementary school here was progressing too fast for his class. On the recommendation of Dr. Broome to Mr. William Prettyman, his father, he skipped the fifth grade. He went from the fourth to the sixth, and always through school it was that type of standard that he carried. 

     At the Randolph-Macon College from where he received his A.B. degree he excelled in his studies. He was the fifth consecutive generation of the Prettyman to attend Randolph-Macon.

      He was not the fifth; he would have been the fourth. His son, Charles W. III, is there now enrolled in that college. 

     But by representation of his son there today, and Charles there and Mr. William Prettyman before him, and Mr. William Prettyman’s father and grandfather there were five. 

     After Randolph-Macon, Charles went to the University of Maryland and shortly upon receipt of the LL.B. he passed the Maryland Bar examination and started to practice here. From then on Charles and I were close in our practice of law here for more than twenty years. I know that he with his father organized the firm Prettyman, DeLashmutt and Prettyman. After some years his father retired, and then Charles went for himself. 

     I knew Charles very well when he was Assistant State’s Attorney. In those days they had only one assistant State’s Attorney so there was a big load to carry, and I had a lot of negotiations with Charley because I was defending cases. But Charles was an outstanding prosecutor. He was a very fair prosecutor, a very diligent prosecutor; and commensurate with all of his nature he was kind and gentle throughout his life in that office and in all of his offices. 

     His father and Dr. Broome molded our school system, and after Dr. Broome retired and passed beyond Mr. Prettyman and then Charles stayed in legal counsel with our school system, which had developed to a very massive organization. 

     We miss Charles. Charles seemed to have from my recognition a knack of the practice of law. It must have come partly by heredity and perhaps partly by training: but from my observation Charles had a very quick mind. He could grasp almost momentarily the legal problem involved and then apply his expertise in the field of law to the solution of the problem; or if it was not to be solved then he knew exactly how to deal with it. 

     Charles has been an asset to our Bar. It is good to have known him. Those of us who knew him very well are better off for having known him. As I said, he leaves a fine son who is at Randolph-Macon; he has a daughter locally employed and another daughter in school. 

     Charles like his father married into the Church. He married the daughter of a local clergyman, and his father before him did the same. Charles married a girl in school with us, Ruth Rosenberger. 

     So it is very sad that we do not go forward from this moment on with Charles, but as I say it was good to have known him and with some reconciliation we know that Charles has met his reward. 

     Thank you.

 

Judge Shook. Responding for the Court is the Honorable Ralph G. Shure.

 Judge Shure. If I may be permitted, before I talk of Charles I should like to spread upon these minutes a feeling that I have personally, in these days of turmoil and unfortunate political tactics at times, with respect to Whaley Dawson. I as a Democrat should like this proceeding to record as a statement from me concerning Whaley Dawson as a Republican that in my lifetime he was the fairest political opponent I have ever known. 

     Friends and members of the family of Charles Prettyman: I first knew Charles when he was admitted to the Bar in about 1939. He was attractive, he was extremely capable, and he was kind to everyone. I have many pleasant recollections about Charles.  For instance, I was never known as an early riser; Charles was, and I remember at a very young age Charles telling me about the beautiful sunrise. 

     After the War Charles and I toured this county together as political candidates, Charles for State’s Attorney and I for the House of Delegates. We became very close at that time, and he was very kind to me in introducing me to people that I had not theretofore known. We had a common bond and, as has been previously indicated, we both were soundly defeated in 1946, as was our whole ticket. But we were closer together thereafter and he was my very good friend until his death. 

     I believe that I tried the last jury case in which Charles was involved, in this very courtroom, and I continued to be impressed to the point of amazement at his ability to grasp a situation and his poise and his extremely attractive and intelligent manner before the Court and jury. 

     Brilliant minds like his do not appear often. The profession will miss him sorely, as will his many, many friends.