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96-Year-Old Lawyer Continues to Work Full-Time

Jerome Offutt started law school at 16 and got his law degree at 19. He's also the oldest living former Maryland delegate.
FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. - A lawyer in Frederick has had a remarkable career and his story continues to grow, as he says he has no plans to retire.

Jerome Offutt begins his day at 6 a.m. by lifting weights for 30 minutes. He then laces up his walking shoes and gets his cardio in.

"I set up a program that every morning I would go out and walk a mile or two," Offutt said.

What makes Offutt's exercise program and work as a full-time lawyer so incredible is he's 96 years old.

"It's keeping involved in such a way that I can contribute still and rather than sit around and twiddle my thumbs," Offutt said.

Offutt grew up on a farm in Montgomery County where he learned his work ethic.

He quickly became a child prodigy who started law school at 16 years old in Washington, D.C. after impressing the dean.

"He said if I felt that I would be able to keep my marks up, that he would certainly admit me," Offutt said.

The young law school student worked at what's now Safeway during the day to help pay for his tuition of $200 a year.

"I received my degree in june of 1937, and at that time, I was only 19 years old," Offutt said.

Maryland law required lawyers to be at least 21 years old, so Offutt worked for former Maryland Secretary of State David Winebrenner in his Frederick law office.

"He said he could use an office boy, so I became his office boy," Offutt said. "He set up my desk right up in his office, so I got to hear interviews of clients."

Offutt started his own law practice at just 21 years old at 2 East Church Street in Frederick and paid $15 a month rent. He then moved 100 West Church Street.

Voters elected him to the Maryland House of Delegates at just 25 years old. He served from 1943 to 1946 and helped to rewrite election and driving laws.

"Being a farm boy, I had an opportunity to go to all these farm contacts I had made, and I ended up being one of the six delegates elected," Offutt said.

According to the Maryland Archives, Offutt is the oldest living former Maryland delegate.

Offutt moved to his third office on West 2nd street in 1964 and has been there ever since. He has no plans to slow down.

"My physician, I asked him for his advice on whether I should retire or not, and he said absolutely not," Offutt said.

"Mr. Offutt is an amazing man. He's had a career that is just unbelievable. He's always very supportive and very knowledgeable in so many areas," said Marty Powers, Offutt's legal assistant.

Offutt has used his knowledge to start numerous organizations in Frederick County, including the Goodwill and the Community Foundation of Frederick County.

"He's a wonderful resource to the community," Powers said. "He stays active and still participates in rotary and many other things."

"I try to be a leader and not a follower," Offutt said.

He's leader who inspires the entire community in Frederick County and shows through his tenacity and kindness dreams can be achieved, coming from a meager farm boy to a lawyer with a 75-year career.

Longevity runs in Offutt's family. His aunt, a nun, lived to 105 years old. He says another key to living a long life is having a positive attitude.
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