STEVENSVILLE — The Honorable Frank Michael Kratovil Sr., 85, of Stevensville, died June 30, 2019, at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, surrounded by his family. Judge Kratovil Sr. moved to Kent Island with his bride Lynnda, from New Carrolton, following his retirement, serving as Administrative District Court Judge in Prince George’s County since 1990. Kratovil Sr. was appointed as a District Court Judge in 1988 by then Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
Kratovil Sr. was born to the late Frank Michael and Harriet Kratokvil in Detroit, Michigan, July 25, 1933. His father, the son of immigrants, changed the last name of his son to Kratovil in an attempt to anglicize the name, so son Frank Jr. at that time became the first Frank Michael Kratovil.
The family moved to Beltsville in 1945. Kratovil graduated in 1951 from the last graduating class at Greenbelt High School. By his own admission, he was not a stellar student and more interested in friends, football and girls. He went to the University of Maryland to play on the football team, and “attend college on the side.” Failing grades got him drafted into the U.S. Army, where, he said, “I went from playing football at Maryland to freezing my butt off the next day in Inchon Harbor, Korea.”
His military experience refocused his life. He later returned to UMD to study at Law School, and passed the bar exam. He opened a private practice with offices in Hyattsville, Annapolis and La Plata. He became very active in advocacy for civil rights. In Prince George’s County, he served as the county’s first lobbyist in Annapolis, Associate County Attorney, Orphans Court Judge, and town attorney for Fairmont Heights. He was Prince George’s Chairman for Joe Tydings’ campaign for U.S. Senate, and also county Chairman for Robert Kennedy’s bid for President in 1968.
As a judge, he earned the nickname “the Hammer.” Considered firm but fair, Kratovil did not steer away from difficult cases. One of his very difficult cases was sentencing three Prince George’s County Police officers to prison for abuse of power, following their severely beating an unarmed and handcuffed African American man. He also challenged a Maryland law that took away all of an African American woman’s children because one of the children had been born out of wedlock. He fought for integration when it was unpopular among his white community members and joined organizations such as the ACLU, NAACP and the National Organization for Woman long before it was considered politically correct to do so. He did these things because he felt it was the right thing to do, his family said. His wife, Lynnda, even fought to integrate the community pool where they lived. Kratovil also taught literacy classes to those people sentence to prison to help insure and assist in rehabilitation.
He developed a passion for music, gathering a collection of 2,500 albums of such artists as Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughan and also including artists that varied including Ice-T to Pavarotti, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and Mozart. He also loved sports, frequently attending UMD football and women’s basketball games and, in more recent years, attending and cheering at his grandchildren’s sporting events.
Kratovil is survived by his wife, Lynnda Lee Skinner Kratovil, daughter Terri Kratovil Meijer and her husband Peter Meijer, and their daughter Sonja Lynnda of Divonne, France; daughter Connie Lee Kratovil-Lavelle, and her son Sean Thomas and daughter Charlotte Lee of Stevensville; and his son Frank Michael Kratovil Jr., his wife Kimberly Erin Fulghum Kratovil, their sons Frank Michael, III, Jackson Skye, Robert Cole, Nathaniel Gray, and daughter, Ayden Lee of Stevensville.
There will be a celebration of life for Frank M. Kratovil Sr. from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Aug. 4, at the Kratovil home, 838 Thompson Creek Road, Stevensville. Military honors at 3 p.m. The celebration is open to the public.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to Compass Regional Hospice, 160 Coursevall Drive, Centreville, MD 21617, or online at compassregionalhospice.org.