Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

William J. McWilliams (1904-1998)
MSA SC 3520-13447


Born in Hudson, New York, February 28, 1904.  Son of William F. and Mary C. (Ryan) McWilliams.  Attended St. Mary's School, Annapolis; Loyola High School, Baltimore; Loyola College, B.A., 1926; University of Maryland Law School, LL.B., 1930.  Admitted to the Maryland bar, 1931.  Married first wife Helen C. A. Disharon of Baltimore City, April 14, 1932 (d. November 6, 1939); children Anne (d. 1997), W. James McWilliams and J. Michael McWilliams.  Married second wife Nancy Butler Leighton of New York City, October 5, 1940 (d. 1975); children Mary H., Hugh L., Clara, Patricia, Stephen B., F. Byron, and Bernard F.  Married third wife Elizabeth Goodhand (d. 1985).  Married fourth wife Madelene Johnston.  Died March 7, 1998 at his home in Annapolis.

Member, Maryland National Guard, 1924-37; rose from private to captain.  Served with 104th Observation Squadron, 1st Maryland Infantry and 110th Field Artillery and on the staffs of General Washington Bowie and General Amos W. W. Woodcock.  Practiced law in the firm of France, McLanahan & Rouzer, Baltimore.  Counselor for the City of Annapolis, 1935-37.  President, Anne Arundel County Bar Association, 1936.  Member, Urner Commission, 1939.  Member, Executive Council of the Maryland State Bar Association, 1941; Chair, Committee on Grievances.  Chair, Annapolis Selective Service Board, 1943-46.  Associate judge, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1946-48.  Senior partner, McWilliams, Evans & Melvin, 1948-65.  Secretary, War Ballot Commission of Maryland, 1943-45.  Member, Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of Court of Appeals, 1945-.  Secretary of state, 1946.*  Senior partner, law firm of McWilliams, Duckett & Haley, Annapolis.  Member, American Bar Association; President, Anne Arundel County Bar Association, 1936; Member, Executive Council, Maryland State Bar Association, 1941, 1948; Vice President, 1952.  Member, Case Commission, 1949; Miles Commission, 1953.  President, Anne Arundel General Hospital, 1955.  Member of the board of directors, Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company, 1958-65. President, board of managers, Anne Arundel General Hospital, 1958-64.  Member, Constitutional Convention Commission, 1965.  Associate judge, Maryland Court of Appeals, 1965-74 (resigned January, 1974).  Member, American Judicature Society; Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association; Annapolis Public Library Association; Southern Medical Society.  Member, University Club (Annapolis); Annapolis Yacht Club; Annapolitan Club; Rule Day Club of Baltimore City; Phi Kappa Sigma; Cosmos Club (Washington, D.C.).  Roman Catholic.  Author, Charter and Code of the City of Annapolis (1935).

*Appointed assistant to the secretary of state during the absence of Thomas Elmo Jones, April 20, 1944-February 7, 1946.  McWilliams actually held the title only two days, February 7-8, 1946.

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