Walter J. Krasniewski, a former longtime federal bankruptcy judge known for his meticulous preparation and gentlemanly demeanor on the bench, died of cancer Thursday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 73.
Judge Krasniewski served in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northwestern District of Ohio for 32 years, making him one of the longest-serving bankruptcy judges in the country, until his retirement in 1997.
During the course of his career, he wrote more than 500 opinions, many of which established case law, said Alan Mikesell, a Maumee lawyer who was a law clerk for the judge.
But it was Judge Krasniewski's hard work and kindness that made him a respected and even beloved figure inside the federal courthouse, Mr. Mikesell said.
“He was a great guy. He was always prepared. If a young attorney didn't know the law, he would speak to him gently. He never embarrassed or belittled anyone. His staff was intensely loyal. He was a father figure to them,” Mr. Mikesell said.
H. Buswell Roberts, a Toledo lawyer and former federal bankruptcy trustee, described Judge Krasniewski as “a fair and compassionate judge and one of the finest judges I've ever appeared before. I just had tremendous respect for him. He was very studious, extremely well prepared.”
Mr. Mikesell and Mr. Roberts said that Judge Krasniewski never lost his love of the law, even after years of retirement. Mr. Mikesell said he spoke to the judge on Monday and found him reading advance sheets of unpublished opinions.
Mary Lou Krasniewski, the judge's wife of 45 years, said her husband's behavior was an expression of the respect he had for the law and lawyers.
Judge Krasniewski was an assistant U.S. attorney and federal bankruptcy referee before being appointed to the bench. During the 1950s, he was an attorney for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
A Toledo native, Judge Krasniewski grew up in the Polish Village neighborhood of North Toledo.
His future wife, seven years his junior, was a neighbor across the street.
The judge graduated from Central Catholic High School, Xavier University in Cincinnati, and the University of Toledo law college.
The judge and his family lived in Toledo's Old Orchard neighborhood until 1969, when they moved to Oak Harbor so he could be closer to Lake Erie, where he loved to fish, Mrs. Krasniewski said.
His memberships included the National Association of Bankruptcy Judges, Port Clinton Moose Lodge 1610, the Oak Harbor Knights of Columbus, the Port Clinton Power Squadron, and the Toledo and Lucas and Ottawa county bar associations.
Surviving are his wife, Mary Lou; daughters, Linda Krasniewski, Leslie D'Arcangelo, and Laurie Kreager; son, Lawrence; brothers, William Krasner and John, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Adalbert Church.
The body will be in the Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe after 2 p.m. tomorrow.
The family requests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.