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A 'Steadfast Source of Strength'

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Nelson Hernandez
Washington Post

Mourners crowded St. Anne's Church in Annapolis on Tuesday to pay tribute to Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr., a renowned jurist and politician who died June 10 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.

Duckett, 64, did much to modernize the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office during his 15 years in office, spurning offers to run for more prominent political positions for many years. In 1988, he was chosen to serve as a judge, a day a friend recalled as "the happiest day in his life," stepping down in 1995 because of the disease.

In public service he made many friends, and Tuesday the church was packed with them. County Executive Janet S. Owens (D), and County Council member Cathleen Marie Vitale (R-Severna Park) attended, as did Maryland Budget Secretary Chip DiPaula Jr. and a vast host of local lawyers and court officials.

His only sibling, Catherine "Kitty" Miller, told the audience that the young Duckett had overcome early health problems -- eczema, allergies and bouts of bronchitis -- to get where he wanted to go.

"I seldom remember him crying," Miller said. "He was a wonderful, remarkable brother."

Paul Bowen, a close friend, recalled that Duckett earned the nickname "Ace" on the University of Maryland lacrosse team because of the Ace bandages he wore after bruising practices.

"Getting clobbered didn't seem to matter to him," Bowen said. "He was a steadfast source of strength for me."

George Lantzas, who served as an assistant state's attorney under Duckett, called him "a man of intense, unrelenting energy," which he directed toward revolutionizing the county state's attorney's office. While in office, Duckett established victims' counseling programs and began dealing with forensics and other sophisticated points of criminal investigations.

"Warren has left this county better than he found it," Lantzas said.

A bagpiper blared "Amazing Grace" as the crowd headed to St. Anne's Cemetery, where Duckett was buried.

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