Judge Francis Miller Arnold, who had a first career as an employee relations director and later became a lawyer and then a judge of the District Court and the Circuit Court, died Wednesday of esophageal cancer at his Westminster home.
He was 83.
"Judge Arnold was a wonderful human being and a superb jurist. He was the kind of judge that any judge would want to emulate," said Howard County Circuit Judge Lenore R. Gelfman.
"I'm so sad. It's a great personal loss for me. We were like a father and daughter. He had been my mentor and teacher. I practiced law before him, and he was so proud when I became an administrative judge back in 1989," said Judge Gelfman.
The son of a house painter and a homemaker, Judge Arnold was born and raised in Westminster.
After graduating from Westminster High School in 1946, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served until 1951, when he was discharged.
He worked briefly for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. before joining Black & Decker Corp. in 1951 as a senior clerk in the personnel department.
He later was assistant personnel manager and eventually rose to director of employee relations for the company's home products division.
While working at Black & Decker, he attended attended night school from 1959 to 1967 at the University of Baltimore, where he earned his bachelor's degree and was a cum laude law graduate.
He was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1967 and continued working for Black & Decker until 1975, when he left to establish a general law practice in Hampstead.
"I have always loved the law. It's been a long love affair," Judge Arnold told The Baltimore Sun in a 1980 interview. "I think all the years I passed that big white courthouse in Westminster, I felt a little tug."
"He loved the law even though it took a while for him in finding his calling," said a son, Timothy F. Arnold, who lives in Westminster.
Gov. Harry R. Hughes appointed Judge Arnold to the District Court in Carroll County in 1980, where he was also an administrative judge of District 10, encompassing Carroll and Howard counties.
In 1990, Gov. William Donald Schaefer appointed him to the Circuit Court of Carroll County.
Judge Arnold served until 1999, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
"He followed the law but was fair. He was the kind of judge who'd bend over backward to give someone a break," his son said. "People he had sent to jail would come back and tell him that he had saved and changed their lives."
"He had a wonderful intellect and a great sense of balance and humor," recalled Judge Gelfman. "As a lawyer, you respected him. You had to be prepared, and he was always prepared."
"He was a thoroughly decent man who never let his ego get in the way. He never got high-handed when a case was getting on his nerves," said Carroll County Circuit Judge Thomas Stansfield.
He said that Judge Arnold had developed a reputation in both District and Circuit courts for "keeping the docket moving."
"He was an extremely affable man,... was 'Equity Arnold,' because he always wanted to do the right thing, often when his rulings may not have fit the box," said Judge Stansfield. "He always did the right thing, first and foremost."
Judge Arnold remained a constant presence and a popular figure around the Westminster courthouse, which he continued to visit in his retirement.
"He was so lovable and such a people person. Everyone loved him here. He was just a great man, and we were very sorry when he retired," said Corinda O. Manuel, jury commissioner for the Circuit Court of Carroll County, who said that it was Judge Arnold's daily habit to greet courthouse staff.
"Judge Arnold was great when he was on and off the bench. He retained a sharp mind until the end of his life," said Ms. Manuel. "He had led such an interesting life. I loved sitting with him and hearing him talk and tell stories."
Until 2010, Judge Arnold was a visiting judge in Carroll, Howard and Frederick counties.
"He was still settling a number of cases," said Judge Gelfman. "Lawyers and clients always said how helpful he was."
She said that Judge Arnold maintained an interest in legal matters until the end of his life.
"I'd bring him legal magazines, and we talked about legal matters," she said.
He was a member of the Carroll County Bar Association, American Legion and the Marine Corps League.
In the early 1970s, he served as chairman of the Republican State Central Committee for Carroll County.
Judge Arnold was an avid golfer and enjoyed reading.
"He also liked to go to Charlestown, W. Va., where we played the slots," said Ms. Manuel.
Judge Arnold's wife of 58 years, the former Evelyn T. Rupinski, died in 2009.
He was a communicant of St. John Roman Catholic Church, 43 Monroe St., Westminster, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday.
Also surviving are two other sons, Michael F. Arnold of Westminster and Mark F. Arnold of Shepherdstown, W. Va.; two daughters, Andrea Hockensmith of Westminster and Susan Allaway of Darnestown; four grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.