Mathias, Joseph Marshall (Age 95) – On Sunday, January 10, 2010, the Honorable Joseph M. Mathias, retired Circuit Court judge, of Kensington, MD. Beloved husband of Ruth Mathias; father of Mark Mathias, Marcia Wilson and Marilyn Mathias; grandfather of Theo Nowlin and Olivia Nowlin; brother of Justin Mathias and Winnie Dillon.
REMEMBRANCES OF JUDGE JOSEPH MARSHALL MATHIAS
When I was about ten years old, I went with my dad to deliver some documents that he had printed for Jones, Mathias and O’Brien. My dad and two generations before him had been printers doing fine letterpress printing. That was the first time I saw Joe Mathias. When I was seventeen, I joined the Naval Reserve, and attended meetings of Unit W-1 at the Silver Spring Armory. The commanding officer of W-1 was Commander Joe Mathias, USNR. To my relief, he never acknowledged that he knew me or my family to any of my “shipmates”.
Joe graduated from Central High School in Washington, D.C. in the Summer of 1931. He started his professional life as a newspaper journalist, went to law school, and passed the Maryland Bar.
During World War II, he would become a naval officer and would be in charge of 25 sailors known as the “Armed Guard” on a merchant ship. His first ship would leave New York in March, 1943 and return 211 days later. It would cross the equator twice heading South, and twice heading North, more than all of the way around the world. He would be assigned to two more merchant ships before becoming a deck officer on an attack transport ship where he spent the last year of the war in the Pacific.
When he returned to San Francisco after completing his merchant ship voyage, he finally got his mail. Among his letters was a returned letter he had written to his brother Bob. The returned letter bore an official “Deceased” stamp. That is how he found out that his brother was deceased. An account of how Bob was killed is reported in the Prologue to “D-Day” by Stephen E. Ambrose, pages 22-24, 25 and 26. In short, the 28 year old Lieutenant was standing in the doorway of a C-47 at 0227 hours on D-Day when he was hit by flak. He got back up and although mortally wounded, jumped near Ste.Mere-Eglise. He was the first American officer killed by German fire on D-Day.
Joe went into private practice after the war. His son, Mark, was born during the war, and Marcia and Marilyn were born after the war.
He was appointed a Circuit Court Judge, and later became Chief Judge of the Circuit Court. He became highly competent in issues of Maryland State taxation. On occasion, he would ask me questions about federal tax law in order to make sure his State tax logic was correct. It always was.
He once told me, after being involved in a very high profile domestic case, that I should “never get into a urinating contest with a skunk. It seems that the Washington Post had taken a position at odds with Judge Mathias’ opinion, and had on several occasions misspelled his last name by adding an extra “s” at the end.
After becoming statutorily senile at age 70, he heard some cases in the Circuit Court, and went on to work at his specialty, deciding state tax cases at the Maryland Tax Court.
He is survived by his wife of 60 plus years, Ruth, and his three children. I was so glad that I had the opportunity, along with the other attorneys in our office to bring Judge Mathias to a Bar Luncheon a few months ago to be honored by the Association for his many years of service. Through his body of work in the 1960's, 70's, 80's, and 90's, he helped to bring our judiciary into the 21st century.
George E. "Gene" Krouse, Esquire