Olmstead, Franklin Bigelow
Birth: Monday, November 25, 1929
Residence: LaPlata, MD
Death: Friday, July 05, 2024 at the age of 94
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Franklin Bigelow Olmsted, 94, of La Plata, Maryland, a prominent lawyer, died peacefully on 5 July 2024 surrounded by his family. Born on 25 November 1929 in New York City, he was the only child of the late Franklin Fessenden Olmsted and Ernestine Frances Glover Olmsted.

A successful trial lawyer, Mr. Olmsted was a formidable adversary in Court and a champion of personal liberty for those he represented. He began practicing law in 1957 with a local firm before opening his own office in 1959, where he specialized in criminal law. Inclined to help those less fortunate, he was known for a large body of pro bono work.

In 1972, he was sworn in as the first Public Defender for the tri-county area of Southern Maryland. He set up, fostered and supervised the organization, and continued diligently in that role for three years before returning to private practice.

Mr. Olmsted's stellar legal reputation was recognized again in 1976 when he was appointed by Maryland's governor to serve on the Commission to Revise the Annotated Code. Through this sweeping review of the State's laws, he worked to modernize and make the statutes more understandable, and the vast majority of the Commission's recommendations were voted into law. For his expert work, he was named an "Admiral of the Chesapeake Bay" by Governor Harry Hughes in 1982. He volunteered on the Code Commission, and its successor the Code Revision Committee, in various leadership and review positions for more than 40 years until the Committee finished its work.

A native of New York State, Mr. Olmsted spent his childhood in Manhattan and in the mountains at "Kleiner" in Garrison, across the Hudson River from West Point. Though his forebears had lived in New England and New York for hundreds of years, his family moved in 1940 to "Hard Bargain," a farm in Mount Victoria, Maryland, where he helped to grow tobacco and raise cattle. In 1947, he graduated with the highest grade-point average from St. Andrew's School, a preparatory boarding school in Middletown, Delaware. After a gap year, he attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1952 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a Phi Beta Kappa key, and letters in track and cross country running (which became a lifelong hobby). After a two-year tour in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps at Camp Lee, Virginia, he attended the University of Virginia School of Law and graduated in 1957.

Mr. Olmsted married the love of his life, the former Alice Irene Richards, on 3 June 1961 at St. Peter's Church, Waldorf, Maryland, and together they raised a daughter and two sons. His lovely bride was a proficient legal secretary, so they joined forces at his law practice and worked side-by-side for decades; with their boys, also lawyers, joining the firm as the years went on. He took great delight in this family partnership.

A voracious reader, Mr. Olmsted was seldom without a book at hand. He spoke French and Spanish, but was a perpetual student of his native language and authored the English usage and style book "Writers' Mistakes – A Handbook of Common Blunders and Ways to Mend Them." A keen duplicate bridge player, he achieved the rank of Bronze Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League. He also enjoyed visiting historical sites, where his knowledge and fine storytelling brought details to life. Known as an intelligent, kind and honest gentleman, he will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his devoted children: Julia Olmsted Beaudry (Edward), William Franklin Olmsted (Cynthia) and Edward Warren Olmsted (Alexis); and six grandsons: Andrew Franklin, Zachary William, Franklin Alexander, Charles Edward, Ethan James and James Aaron Olmsted. His beloved wife of 57 years, Alice Richards Olmsted, died in 2019.

Friends will be received on Sunday, 14 July 2024, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., with prayers beginning at 7 p.m., and on Monday, 15 July, from 9 to 10 a.m., at Arehart-Echols Funeral Home, 211 St. Mary's Avenue, La Plata, MD 20646. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, 15 July 2024, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Peter's Church, 3320 St. Peter's Drive, Waldorf, MD 20601. Burial to follow in the church cemetery. Father Keith A. Woods will officiate. Pallbearers will be Messrs. Andrew F. Olmsted, Zachary W. Olmsted, Charles E. Olmsted, James A. Olmsted, Michael B. Millett and Karl R. Grebe.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Stroke Association, P.O. Box 840692, Dallas, TX 75284-0692 (www.stroke.org).
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