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Published: Tuesday, 4/2/2002

Attorney loved to help inventors get their patents

Hugh A. Kirk, a retired patent attorney who in 1934 became the youngest person at that time to graduate from the University of Toledo, died of pneumonia Friday in Flower Hospital. He was 85.

Mr. Kirk, son of the late Toledo patent attorney George Kirk, proved ahead of his time in many respects in Toledo. He graduated with honors from Scott High School at 14, tutoring many of his classmates upon graduation. He graduated with honors from UT at 18, majoring in physics.

In 1936, at 19, he became the youngest person hired by the U.S. Patent Office as a junior examiner. By 1938, at age 21, he earned his master's and law degrees from National University in Washington.

He met his wife, Eva, on a train in Belgium while Mr. Kirk was working for ITT Industries as a patent attorney. Mrs. Kirk, a native of Belgium, said she and Mr. Kirk hit it off immediately and married a year after meeting. They were married for 50 years.

“He was an exceptional human being,” Mrs. Kirk said. “He was a very warm person who enjoyed people and conversation. He had a wonderful sense of humor.”

The couple stayed in Belgium for a year after they married, then returned to United States.

Mr. Kirk joined the Ohio Bar Association in 1943 and was approved to practice law in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as a patent attorney.

In 1952 he and his father opened a patent law office. A year later his father retired, and Mr. Kirk took over the operation.

Mrs. Kirk said her husband was a “perpetual student,” keeping up on the latest developments in politics, physics, chemistry, and astronomy. “He aspired to know about all of the issues he was interested in,” Mrs. Kirk said. “He was constantly reading.”

Mr. Kirk was inducted into the Inventor's Hall of Fame in Akron three years ago, Mrs. Kirk said. She said her husband gave his undivided attention to his clients, enabling them to fine-tune and safeguard their patents.

“He loved assisting inventors and helping them gain their patents,” his wife said.

Mr. Kirk was a member of the Toledo Club, Sylvania Rotary Club, and Astronomy Club. Mrs. Kirk said he also was a member of numerous industrial associations. He retired about a year ago.

He is survived by his wife, Eva.

A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. tomorrow in Sylvania United Church of Christ, 7240 Erie St. Reeb Funeral Home handled arrangements.

The family requests tributes to a charity of the person's choice.

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