On August 5, 2007, the former Chief Judge and Administrative Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Maryland, Ernest A. Loveless Jr. passed from among us. From that day until he was taken to his final resting place after his funeral on Friday, August 17, 2007 everywhere that his family, friends, former colleagues and Law Clerks(like this writer who was his law clerk form September 1973 to December 1975 and his colleague from May 1990 to October 1992), in addition to priests, governors, state legislators, volunteer firemen, and neighbors gathered, they told stories…”Judge Loveless stories”, “Ernie Loveless stories”, “goose hunting stories” “political stories” and most endearing “family stories”.
Ernest A. Loveless Jr.’s obituary, which was widely published, recited his professional history of accomplishments and recognition which spanned over 32 years on the Circuit Court including his last 16 years as its Chief Judge and several years before that as Administrative Judge. He also served for over seven years as a legislator and a leader of the Southern Maryland Region in the House of Delegates. These professional accomplishments included the modernization and computerization of the Circuit Court, the instillation of state of the art case management techniques and docket control by the court and the utilization of psychological staff, analysis and tools to aid the court in resolving family disputes and issues related to the welfare of children. These innovations continue to enhance the operations of the judiciary today. Their presence serves as a constant reminder to those of us who remember their beginning as well as who initiated them that one of Chief Judge Loveless’s favorite quotes from “A Psalm of life” describes his professional legacy to the judiciary and the people of the state of Maryland,
“Lives of great men remind us we can make our lives sublime and departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.”
The modern Circuit Court in the 7th Judicial Circuit bears footprints of this great judge.
What Judge Loveless’s obituary did not convey is what all the stories we told and all the pictures we saw at his viewing and at the reception after his burial tell us. Simply put, they tell us that Ernie Loveless was a wonderful human being. His essential humanity and his tremendous capacity to care deeply about his wife of 63 years, Margaret, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his friends as well as the people who were affected by his decisions in and out of the courtroom. His influence over the lives of the thousands of children who were adopted in proceedings over which he presided is best demonstrated by the stories, his own words and the pictures.
When I learned that Judge Loveless was ill, perhaps terminally so, I looked for insight to the same source that had provided comfort and consolation when my own mother approached her end. I reread parts of the book entitled “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom, also the author of “Tuesdays with Morrie”. In that book the lead character “Eddie” dies and goes to heaven and meets five people, each of whom teaches him a lesson about his life and its relationship to what he styles as the “afterlife”.
The first lesson “Eddie” learns when he gets to heaven is that we are all connected. “You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind”. Judge Ernest A. Loveless Jr. instinctively knew that and he lived by it in and out of the courtroom. He knew it when in 1944 while in the Navy during World War II he wrote his wife, Margaret, the following poetic words:
I see the city so spread out, hear subways roar and children shout.
It seems with so much all around-
the very bright lights, the action and sound-
A person’s thoughts wouldn’t want to stray to things that happened on another day.
But I remember Margaret in my arms. I loved her, held her, all her charms.
So it’s out to the blue horizon where the starts twinkle down from above;
My heart wanders down to Maryland-
down to the girl I love.
I see her standing in a vision bright, the flame of love an undying light.
So hear and yet so far she seems, attainable only in my dreams.
Ernest A. Loveless Jr., 1944
The hundreds of pictures of Ernie Loveless, almost all of them with family, friends, law clerks, lawyers and colleagues further reveal the central role he played in all of our professional and personal lives. I know of so many of Judges and lawyers that he encouraged that I have lost count. Indeed I know of one current Circuit Court Judge, who when he was a Probation Agent, was encouraged to go to law school and attributes his current position in part to the advice and encouragement of Judge Loveless. In many cases Judge Ernest A. Loveless Jr. sacrificed or extended himself to assist his family, his law clerks, his friends, his colleagues and his community so we too could live out our dreams as he had. He knew what author Mitch Albom’s character “Eddie” only found out when he go to heaven.” Sacrifice is a part of life. It is not something to regret it is something to aspire to”
Ernie Loveless’s wife Margaret, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his law clerks, his judicial colleagues, his fellow former legislators, the governors he served with , his fellow volunteer firemen, the lawyers he presided over and practiced law with, the children whose adoptions he granted and supervised, their parents and siblings, are all in the pictures with him that he collected or that were collected for him because we and they were his life, part of why he lived. In turn each of us has our own story and Ernie Loveless is in all of them.
For Ernie Loveless our stories are one story and because of the way he lived, it is his story and it continues through us.
Goodbye Judge Loveless, many of our lives were and still are being shaped by you. We cannot and will not forget you as we live them out.