In the Circuit Court for Montgomery County
February 5, 1951
Memorial to J. Roger Spates
To the Honorable, the Judges of this Court:
The Committee appointed by the Bar Association of Montgomery County to present a memorial to the memory of our lately departed brother, J. Roger Spates, respectfully reports;
Joseph Roger Spates, the third son of Richard F. and Clara Karn Spates, was born on November 8, 1881, on a farm in Poolesville District, Montgomery County, Maryland. His early education was obtained in the public schools. He later attended Shenandoah Valley Academy at Winchester, Virginia; graduated from the law school of the University of Virginia in 1905 , and was admitted to the Bar of the Court of Appeals of Maryland in 1912. In that year he moved to Rockville and entered upon the practice of his profession with his brother, the late Wm. Outerbridge Spates. When the latter was elected the State Attorney for Montgomery County , our subject became his assistant in that office , where his thorough legal training and intelligent attention to details were of material benefit in the administration of that important public office. These same qualities were manifested in his painstaking service to the public during the subsequent six years that Mr. Spates spent as Chief Deputy Clerk of this Court under the late Clerk, Preston B. Ray.
Never a robust man physically, he was nevertheless a stickler for doing thoroughly the task at hand, and he was never content until he was satisfied that the had found the correct solution. Perhaps in these characteristics are to be found his reasons for not entering the rough and tumble of active practice. He preferred to seek the truth in solitary effort, rather than in the heat of contest.
In 1922 Mr. Spates became counsel to the Suburban Title and Investment Corporation. As the business of that corporation grew, its legal staff was increased and we find our subject a member of the law firm of Baker, Harris & Spates, and later that of Spates, Hutchinson & Capenhauer. During the remainder of his active life Mr. Spates gave his entire service to this corporation. In 1934 he was chosen as its Vice-President and Title Officer, both of which positions he retained until his retirement on January 1, 1950.
Although his business career was one of confinement to an office, his recreations were those of the out of doors. The lure of the farmlife, where his life began, never lost its charm for him. And so, when retirement came , he returned to spend his last years upon his stock farm “Bonnie Brae” and the “Glen Cameron”, near Comus, in the County. He died on September 1, 1950.
Besides his purely business connections he gave actively of his time and talents to the selective drafts in World Wars I and II. He was elected Mayor of Rockville in 1926 and continued in that office until 1932. During his administration many important public improvements were made.
Mr. Spates is survived by his widow, Mrs. Annie E. S. Barbour Spates, whom he married on September 25, 1908. She was not only his devoted wife and the enthusiastic companion of his fishing and other recreations, but his helper and co-employee in his business. He is also survived by two sons, John Richard Spates and George Edward Spates, and four grandchildren who were the joy and comfort of his latter years.
Those of us who came into almost daily contact with him know him to have been a man of strong moral convictions, and that he served his generation well, leaving to his widow, sons and other members of his family and friends a memory of a life well spent.
We move your Honors that this memorial be spread upon the minutes of this Court and copies thereof be sent to the press and to the immediate members of the family our deceased brother.
William F. Prettyman
Clifford H. Robertson, Committee