Memories of James W. Salter, III, Esq.
It’s just about a year ago now that we learned that Jim Salter was ill. Early one morning, I received a call from Jimmy inviting me to come and have breakfast with him at the Apollo. He sounded very serious and matter of fact. I remember thinking “Have I done something wrong?”
I sat down across from Jim. He was very intent on eating his breakfast, a large plate of grits and eggs, an occasional sip of coffee that his favorite waitress warmed up periodically. There was never any messing around with Jimmy when he was serious… “I’ll get right to the point,” he said in between bites. “My results are in… I have cancer.” And, just like that everything changed.
On our part, there was great sadness. Sometimes, there was anger at the world, anger at Jim for his daily lifestyle, anger at the doctors for not helping him sooner.
On Jim’s part, there was a sense of resolve and urgency. There would be no more vacations until he beat the disease, no more time for his favorite pastime – golf. He was 100 percent certain that he would win this challenge, as he had so many times before when faced with a seemingly supreme legal foe. He was going to beat this disease or die trying.
Mr. Salter once told me that he wasn’t afraid of dying, so long as he didn’t wither away. At the wake, I overheard someone say that it was as if Jim wrote his own ending. He died suddenly, without suffering or lingering on. He died doing what he loved, suited up and being a lawyer. He died in a way that caused his family as little grief as possible… under the circumstances.
Jim Salter loved life like no other. He loved the law and practicing law. The only thing that he loved more than his chosen profession was his family, his wife, Carol and his children, Carrie and Jamie. He would put a judge on hold, stop a deposition, tell everyone else to wait if one of them called.
I, for one, feel as though I was handed a gift when I made the acquaintance of James W. Salter, III. I will miss him immensely.
Luis F. Gomez, Jr.
Everyone remembers Sept 11. However, on Sept 11, 2007 that date took on an entirely new meaning for me personally, because on that date I lost a dear friend and colleague on the courthouse steps of the District Court in Silver Spring, Maryland: Jim Salter.
I first met Jimmy in 1970 when I began practicing law in Silver Spring as a solo practitioner. Jimmy was following the law in a firm with his father and Jim Tomes, all of whom were willing to give a hand to a newcomer.
Later, Jimmy moved his practice to Potomac and finally to Rockville. However, he always kept his Silver Spring roots, even continuing the old firm name of Tomes and Salter to the finish.
Jim Salter loved the law as few people I have ever known. He believed in the law and what it stood for always. Jim was intellectually sharp and insightful, seeing right through the most complex legal and factual maze to the heart of the matter. If you wanted to talk law with Jimmy, you needed to bring your "A" game.
As many can attest, Jim was an excellent litigator with a wry sense of humor and a sometimes biting wit. But on another note, he was always just and professional in his dealings and willing to give assistance or advice to anyone who needed it, and often without seeking anything in return.
The record will clearly reflect that Jimmy gave generously to his profession, our bar and his colleagues. Yet he loved his family more than can be imagined. He met and married the wonderful Carol Frasher whom he loved dearly along with their children, grandchildren and his siblings.
Yes, Jimmy will be sorely missed by the lawyers, Judges, Courthouse personnel, his friends, family and the community in general.
When all is said and done, more is often said than is done. But not with Jimmy. He was a doer. When struck by Cancer, he fought and was winning until suddenly and unexpectedly cut down by a silent force.
Jim Salter is gone, but his spirit remains and what he was and the things he did will not be forgotten. The torch he carried is now passed to us, and it is our duty to see that the flame is kept burning brightly to light the way for those who are to follow.
If I could say one final word to Jim, it would be: Thanks for the memories, Jim. Thanks for the memories.
John H. Harman, Esquire