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Myrna Field Baum,

judge, innovator

COMMON Pleas Senior Judge Myrna Field Baum, a much-honored jurist, former administrative judge of Family Court, domestic-relations lawyer, onetime assistant district attorney, civic leader and an adventurer who climbed peaks in the Himalayas and bicycled all over the world, died yesterday of a rare blood disease. She was 71 and lived in Society Hill.

Among her honors was the Louis D. Brandeis Law Society's Community Service Award in 2005. She was also honored as a Family Court administrative judge for numerous innovations in the city's domestic relations justice system.

They range from instituting night hours to accommodate working parents and spouses, to an innovative job program that found work for deadbeat dads so they could make their support payments.

The judge, who was known as Myrna Field during her professional career, was born in Philadelphia to Benjamin Paul and Florence Field. She was raised in West Philadelphia and graduated from Lower Merion High School.

She attended Smith College for a time, then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, from which she received a bachelor's degree. She received her law degree from Penn and later earned a master's degree in law from Penn.

She was associated with the law firm of Barbara and Edward Silver, specializing in domestic relations.

She was elected to Common Pleas Court in 1991 and served in all divisions except Orphans Court. She was administrative judge from 2002 to 2006, when she became a senior judge.

She was president of the Middle Atlantic Legal Foundation, which is part of a national network that intervenes in legal cases with national importance.

In addition to service as an assistant D.A., she also served as counsel to the Equal Opportunity Commission of Philadelphia, counsel to the Philadelphia Civil Service Commission, and initiated and organized the first Mayor's Office of Consumer Services.

Myrna was the former president of the Society Hill Civic Association and was a member of numerous legal organizations.

She was married to prominent lawyer and Fairmount Park Commissioner E. Harris Baum for 24 years. They had many adventures together, including climbing in the Annapurna range of the Himalayas in Nepal with an Australian climbing team.

Their travels ranged as far as Antarctica and included many cycling trips in foreign lands.

"We had a great life together," said her husband. "She was inquisitive, informative, interesting, loving and kind. She was my close friend."

She also is survived by a daughter, Jennie Nicaud; stepchildren Sharon Kaplan, Susan Spector and Lewis Baum; a brother, Edward Paul, and seven grandchildren.

Services: 10:30 a.m. Friday at Keneseth Israel, 8390 Old York Rd., Elkins Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bread Upon the Waters scholarship fund at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Amyloidsis Foundation in Boston. *