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Archibald Eccleston III

1927 - 2019
Archibald Eccleston III Notice
Archibald "Arch" Eccleston III was born at home on September 18, 1927 in Baltimore City, Maryland. He attended public school in Highlandtown and spent summers on his grandparents' farm in Chase, Maryland where he learned to fish and hunt. On December 7, 1941, he was watching a movie at the Grand Theater in Highlandtown when the Japanese crippled America's Pacific fleet on what President Franklin Roosevelt so memorably called "a day that would live in infamy." Like many others Arch immediately decided to enlist in the armed services. What was unusual was Arch's age. He left school shortly thereafter at the age of 14 on a work permit, and within a month, enlisted in the Coast Guard using an altered birth certificate. After completing his primary training at Curtis Bay, Maryland, Arch was assigned to a patrol frigate in San Francisco. Arch's ship was scheduled for sea duty in the Pacific, but before the ship sailed it was discovered, with an assist from his worried mother, that he was only 14 years of age. He was discharged for "unsuitability due to immaturity" and was returned to Baltimore. Undaunted, Arch almost immediately enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after making it clear to his parents that if they revealed his true age to the Marine Corps he would never return home. Arch was trained as a combat infantryman and participated in three World War II island campaigns; the occupation of Japan; served in Northern China during the communist revolution; and, finally Guam before returning stateside. Arch was honorably discharged as a decorated sergeant of Marines in October 1948. While stationed in northern China Arch earned his high school equivalence certificate, and was thereafter admitted to the University of Maryland on a combined degree program, but after only two years of undergraduate work Arch was admitted to law school and therefore never received a Bachelor's degree. Arch graduated from law school in 1954 and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1955. The law firm now known as Eccleston and Wolf opened its doors in December 1969. Initially the firm consisted of three attorneys with a two-person support staff. In addition to founding and building the firm, Arch served as Maryland State Committeeman for the American Trial Lawyers Association for three years, and was elected president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association in 1972.Arch received his private pilot's license in 1957 and began a career in "aerobatic flying." He has owned and flown multiple aerobatic aircraft and in his spare time performed for many years in air shows, primarily on the east coast, while also working as a flight instructor. Upon his retirement from the law firm at the age of 75, Arch began flying as a contract pilot for an airline charter business in the metropolitan area. He eventually held the following licenses and ratings: private pilot, commercial, instrument, multi engine, certified flight instructor and ground instructor. When he was 76 years of age, Arch received his Air Line Transport Pilot ("ATP") rating, the oldest person ever to receive an ATP rating from the Federal Aeronautics Administration. Arch continued to maintain that rating and to work regularly as a contract pilot for several companies locally for many years. While the military, flying and the law took up most of Arch's time as a "working man," his employment history was varied to say the least. While not an exhaustive list, Arch worked as the operator of a trackless trolley for the Baltimore Transit Company; a brakeman and substitute fireman on diesel engines for the Canton Railroad; a detective for the Willmark Detective Agency; was the owner and president of the Allied Building Corporation (an impressive title for a two man operation); on the assembly line at the Chevrolet and the Fisher Body Works; as a cab driver for the Diamond Cab Company; and as a police officer in Sparrows Point, Maryland. Arch is survived by his wife of 59 years, the former Shirley Elizabeth Calender, and their son, Archibald "Tad" Eccleston IV, as well as his sister, Elvina Thomsen Robbins, nieces Susan Bushur and Virginia Thomsen, and nephew Robert Thomsen.
Published in Baltimore Sun on June 7, 2019
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