Ralph Shure, 89, a conservative and sometimes controversial judge who retired in 1978 after six years as chief of the Montgomery County Circuit Court, died of pneumonia Sept. 20 at Suburban Hospital. He had bone cancer.
Judge Shure was named to the court in 1959 by Gov. J. Millard Tawes and elected to a second term in 1960. Earlier, he was a trial magistrate in Montgomery and a trial lawyer in private practice.
Judge Shure was known as a "law and order" jurist and a stickler for proper courtroom dress and deportment. Among his more publicized strict decisions was a three-year sentence handed down in 1971 to a Czechoslovakian refugee and his pregnant wife for passing $269 in bad checks.
Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel quickly pardoned the couple, who had made restitution. Judge Shure then filed a complaint against the governor with the state bar association.
In another case the following year, the clerk of the court filed a complaint against the judge, saying Judge Shure had threatened to jail the chief of the county's criminal bond division for reducing an accused forger's bond. Judge Shure denied the complaint.
Other rulings made by the judge included an order to the County Council that it could not impose taxes on throw-away containers bought in the county. He also dismissed a parking ticket issued in Bethesda in 1977 on the grounds that a county ordinance banning commuter parking in residential neighborhoods was unconstitutional.
In 1974, he ordered the closing of 41 drugstores that were operating on Sunday under an exemption from the Maryland "blue laws" then in effect. In 1962, he ruled that Henry Miller's novel "Tropic of Cancer" was obscene and could not be offered by county libraries.
Judge Shure was born in Wiconisco, Pa., and raised in Montgomery County. He was a graduate of Central High School in Washington and the University of Maryland, where he was state cross-country champion in 1931 and a varsity track star. He was a founding officer of the university's Terrapin Club.
While working for the Home Owners Loan Corp. in Chicago, he attended Loyola University. He later received a law degree from Georgetown University.
Judge Shure represented eastern Montgomery in the Maryland House of Delegates in the mid-1940s, after serving in the Navy in the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II.
Judge Shure, who lived in Chevy Chase, was president of the Montgomery County Bar Association, the University of Maryland Alumni Association and the M Club. He was vice president of the Maryland Bar Association, a trustee of Colesville Methodist Church and a member of the Colesville Lions Club, the Delta Sigma Phi social fraternity, Columbia Country Club, the American Legion and Chevy Chase United Methodist Church.
He was an officer of the Montgomery County Historical Society and chairman of the Montgomery County March of Dimes. He had also been vice president of the Men's Democratic Club of Takoma Park and financial secretary of the Takoma Park Volunteer Fire Department.
Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Helen H. Shure of Chevy Chase; two children, Linda Mary Jones of Hillsboro, N.H., and Deane A. Shure of Rockville; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.