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Published: Monday, 8/2/2004

WW II infantryman practiced law more than a half-century

PORT CLINTON - Russell E. Rakestraw, 79, a respected, longtime attorney who practiced law in Findlay before moving here, died Saturday in Toledo Hospital. The exact cause of death was not known.

"He was a respected attorney in Findlay and, really, all of northwest Ohio," said his son, Gregory Rakestraw, who is also an attorney. He had a general law practice but was primarily a trial attorney, his son said.

Mr. Rakestraw first attended Findlay High School but later transferred to Arlington High School, where he graduated in 1943. After high school, Mr. Rakestraw enlisted in the Army during World War II and served as a combat infantryman in Europe, his son said.

After his military service, Mr. Rakestraw returned to Ohio and attended Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. He received a law degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

"He loved Findlay, and this is where he planned to return from the very beginning," the younger Mr. Rakestraw said.

Mr. Rakestraw opened his original law practice in 1951 in an office on Main Street in downtown Findlay that he shared with his father, a doctor. Mr. Rakestraw eventually moved his practice to East Crawford Street in Findlay, his son said. They formed the Rakestraw & Rakestraw law firm in 1974.

The elder Mr. Rakestraw was Findlay solicitor from 1956 to 1962 and held many memberships. He was a board member of Citizens Bank of Mt. Blanchard, a member of the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, and a member of local, state, and national bar associations. He was also a former attorney for the Selective Service System in northwest Ohio.

Mr. Rakestraw began to retire about nine years ago and completely stopped working two years ago, his son said.

He married the former Genevieve Might in 1947. They divorced after 16 years. He married the former Christina Coffman on Dec. 5, 1964, and she survives.

Also surviving are his son, Gregory; daughters, Ann Wydman and Tamara Lee; five grandchildren; one great-granddaughter, and a sister, Rosemary Pratt.

The body will be in the Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay, after 2 p.m. tomorrow. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the mortuary. The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice.



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