Services for Jim Anthenelli set June 25 in OC

The impressive life of Attorney James Anthenelli, who died May 26, will be honored at a memorial Mass in Ocean City on June 25.

The longtime Salisbury attorney, characterized as an invaluable mentor who paid careful attention to detail in court, died from pancreatic cancer at home in Millsboro. The Mass will be at 11:30 a.m. at Holy Savior Catholic Church.

“We are really, really going to miss him,” his wife, Monica, said.

Her husband of 42 years was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about two years ago, but was able to work and help build the couple’s  home, in a golfing community, the first 18 months or so. Even in recent months, when he was sicker, he didn’t feel sorry for himself.

“He was very courageous and very brave and carried himself to the end with dignity and love,” his wife said.

She  described her husband of 42 years as “quite a character” and a man with a “wonderful sense of humor.”

“Myself and our children would just laugh all the time. He was a character and a lot of fun at family gatherings. He loved his children. And he was so blessed to live to see his first grandchild,” she said.

The couple has a son and daughter. Their grandson was born last August.

His wife said Anthenelli loved traveling, especially to Italy, fishing and, later, golfing. When friends asked him why he switched hobbies,  he’d say he could only have one mistress, and it would be golf, his wife said.

A native of Middlesex, N.J., he earned his law degree at the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1976, and started his career as assistant state’s attorney for Wicomico County.

A criminal defense attorney, he worked in law firms including Hearne and Bailey; Robins, Johnson and Anthenelli; Anthenelli and Otway; and Anthenelli,Phoebus and Hickman.

Attorney John Phoebus, his law partner since January, called him a gentleman and said many emulated his demeanor and ability to hold his temper.

“Jim would just fill a courtroom with his presence. The spotlight in the room turned to him because of his charisma and his poise and polish,” Phoebus said.

His friend, Attorney Jim Otway, who was once in practice with him, called him “a wonderful, wonderful man, a consummate professional and an excellent trial attorney.”

“He was extremely well respected by other lawyers, by law enforcement and the courts,” he said.

Away from work, they were friends. “Oh, he had a wonderful sense of humor. He was one of the funniest people I ever met, without a doubt,” Otway said.

Judge Kathleen Beckstead said Anthenelli was her mentor and that working with him “was such an incredible learning experience.”

“I don’t think you can ever get tired of admiring someone like that,” she said.

She was a partner with him from September 1988 until 1996.

“He was the best, most wonderful mentor. He was a real model for how to practice law,” she said, and he knew when to be assertive.

“It was just magic watching him practice from the judge’s bench. He was very poised and well prepared. He was deadly in terms of being well prepared,” she said.

Anthenelli was a member of the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland for more than 21 years and held three gubernatorial appointments.

“As sick as he was, he would manage to get himself out the door and make phone calls,” his wife said.

“He said he had some unfinished business he wanted to take care of. He made sure our children and I were well taken care of and that we were comfortable,” she said.

“He was a wonderful man. And we’re all OK.”


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