Fred Grabowsky, 81; Military Lawyer, Counsel for District of Columbia Bar

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fred Grabowsky, 81, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who was the first bar counsel for the District of Columbia Bar and an assistant U.S. attorney, died of complications of prostate cancer Jan. 15 at Anne Arundel Medical Center. He lived in Severna Park and had been a resident of Arlington County for more than 40 years.

Col. Grabowsky, before beginning a legal career in the military, was an infantry officer in the Marine Corps aboard the cruiser USS Des Moines. He was also in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine divisions and the Naval ROTC unit at Harvard College.

In the Judge Advocate General's Corps, he had trial and defense counsel duties. He was counsel for courts of inquiry and boards of investigation, and he headed the Promotions and Retirements Branch of the Navy JAG. He also organized the first biracial committee in Albany, Ga., which sought to help integrate black servicemembers into the city.

Col. Grabowsky, who retired in 1968, was awarded the Bronze Star with "V" for service in Vietnam.

After retiring from the military, he practiced criminal law and was a public defender. He was the first president of the Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association when it started in 1971.

When the D.C. Bar created its Office of Bar Counsel, Col. Grabowsky was chosen to run it. He oversaw disciplinary procedures regarding lawyers for about 10 years, until 1983. He joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District, where his administrative skills led to his quickly becoming chief of the misdemeanor section. He retired from that position in 1989.

Mr. Grabowsky, a native of Paterson, N.J., enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1949. He received a juris doctor degree in 1958 from Boston College Law School and a master's of law from George Washington University Law School in 1968.

He was an emeritus trustee of the Naval Academy. He enjoyed going to Washington Redskins and Navy football games, fishing, traveling overseas and traveling domestically in his RV. He was an entertainer who enjoyed doing magic tricks, his family said.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Laila Grabowsky of Severna Park; eight children, Fred Grabowsky of Duncanville, Ala., Mark Grabowsky of Geneva, Craig Grabowsky of Portsmouth, Va., Erik Grabowsky of Arlington County, Devra Boesch of Middletown, Laila Bottomly of Fallbrook, Calif., Marla Jasper of Tyler, Tex., and Alita Thomas of Alexandria; 16 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

-- Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb

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