January 16, 2020 at 10:31 am EST | by Jim Becker
Longtime Baltimore attorney, activist Ed Jeunette dies
Edward Jeunette, gay news, Washington Blade
Edward Jeunette, 62, died suddenly on New Year’s Day after developing pneumonia. (Photo courtesy Baltimore OutLoud)

Edward Jeunette, a longtime attorney for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, community activist, and former aide to City Councilwomen Mary Pat Clark when she was President of the City Council, died suddenly on New Year’s Day after developing pneumonia. He was 62 years old and lived in Mount Washington with his spouse and husband of 30 years James “Jeb” King.

Jeunette was the son of Edward R. Jeanette, an attorney, and Margaret Clark Jeunette, who died when Ed was 11. Like his father and two brothers, he attended and graduated from Mount Saint Joseph High School. He then graduated from Towson State University, and the University of Baltimore School of Law. As soon as he finished law school in 1982, he took over his father’s Hampden-based law practice. He ran the law practice until he began a lifelong career in public service.

Jeunette and Jeb met on April 29, 1989. In 2013, the year that gay marriage became legal in Maryland, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Edward Hargadon, now retired, married them on April 29, their anniversary date. Judge Hargadon knew Jeunette from his years as a Judge in Juvenile Court where Jeunette tried many cases and said, “To be asked by Ed to officiate his and Jeb’s wedding was such an honor. When I had lunch with them to plan the ceremony, I could see how much they loved one another. They were so playful and gentle together.”

When the two first met, Jeunette was not out to his conservative Catholic family. That all changed when Jeunette was planning to go to a family gathering and asked Jeb if he wanted to come along. Jeb’s answer was an emphatic yes and from then on, they were a couple — to Jeunette’s family and everyone else. Jeb said, “I really believe that was a turning point in Ed’s life because he was not out anywhere up to that point. From that moment on, Ed began living the life that he deserved, wanted and was extremely proud of.”

Jeunette spent much of his life volunteering for community organizations. He grew up in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood and remained committed to the community even after he moved away. He was a board member of the Hampden Business Association, served as a marshal in the Mayor’s Christmas Parade, volunteered for the Hampden Family Center, and was a past vice president of the Hampden-Woodberry Community Council. He later worked for marriage equality and participated in Pride activities.

He was also active in the Democratic Party and in 1987 joined Mary Pat Clarke’s successful citywide campaign for president of the City Council. Following her election, Jeunette joined her as her director of legislation and was involved during her challenging but successful transition as the first woman elected City Council president. He worked on a number of important early legislative initiatives, but Clarke remembers most an incident that showed Jeunette’s thoughtfulness and humor. She said, “[f]or all the support and help Ed brought to the office, I best recall a surprise transformation of my office itself on our first St. Patrick’s Day in office. I began the day chairing the Board of Estimates and when I returned to my office, the red chairs had all been replaced with green chairs. A wonderful sight to behold, which made my day and stands out in my happy memories of those transitional days. Ed never said where those green chairs came from, and I never asked.”

In 1990, Jeunette began a 30-year career as an attorney with the Department of Social Services representing the agency in difficult child abuse and neglect cases and trials protecting vulnerable adults.

In addition to Jeb, Jeunette is survived by brothers Michael and Clark, sister Patricia Dideriksen, step brother Chuck Thompson, step sister Susan Kohler, nine nieces and nephews, and eight great nieces and nephews. A stepsister Libby Rector died recently.

Jeunette’s family, many friends, and colleagues attended a packed memorial celebration of his life on Jan. 8. The family has suggested that donations be made in his honor to the Maryland SPCA.

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