Richard A. Day III, clerk of the Circuit Court in Charles County, died Monday night after decades of service as clerk of the District Court and then the Circuit Court.

Colleagues and friends remembered Day, 55, as a caring man committed to his employees, his constituents and his family.

Day's unexpected death was the result of a "sudden medical condition," said Sally Rankin, court information officer. His wife, Valerie Day, said Tuesday that family members did not want to talk to reporters.

Administrative Judge Robert C. Nalley, one of the four circuit judges who appointed Day to his position in 2001, praised him as someone who always had his eye out for rules changes that could help make the court run more smoothly.

There was even a 1989 rules change -- known as the "Rick Day Law" -- named after him. The law allowed judges to impose jail time as a condition of probation, a helpful tool in streamlining the sentencing process for drunk drivers.

"He was utterly reliable," Nalley said. "You'd sit down and have a discussion about what needed to be done, and he could be relied upon to do it."

State's Attorney Leonard C. Collins Jr. (D) called Day an asset to the court.

"For the 25 years I've been here, Rick was a mainstay in the courthouse, always professional and courteous," Collins said. "He was a quality public servant who will be missed."

Among the hundreds of legal and clerical duties that Day performed, there was one in particular that he loved: officiating at weddings.

"He would always talk about his weddings and what a pleasure it was to be a part of those people's lives as they were beginning new lives," recalled Kathy P. Smith, Circuit Court clerk for Calvert County. "Rick was always willing to do that for his constituents. He would even travel to other counties to perform the ceremonies. . . . He was just excited about doing weddings, period."

Before serving as Circuit Court clerk, Day was a lawyer in private practice from 1996 to 2001. From 1976 to 1996, he served as clerk of the District Court for Charles County. While working as clerk in the District Court, he graduated from law school in 1987.

Day was born in Peterborough, N.H., in 1950 and educated in Britain until 1957. He graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1973.

The summer before his senior year in college, he completed the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School but declined a commission "due to an acute sensitivity to poison ivy," according to the biography he posted on his election Web site.

Outside of the office, the La Plata resident had been active in numerous organizations, including the board of Christ Church Day School, where his wife had taught. He also liked boats and kept a sailboat.

According to Nalley, Day and his father were deeply involved in restoring old boats and old marine engines. "He was very much mechanically inclined," Nalley said.

Day is survived by his wife, Valerie, and two teenage children -- Rick and Marcie.

Nalley expects the court to appoint a replacement clerk who will serve until the election next year.

Richard A. Day III was appointed clerk of the Charles County Circuit Court in 2001.