Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Attorney guided top law firm with sense of duty

Joseph Skeldon Heyman, a former managing partner of the law firm Spangler Nathanson who in retirement oversaw the philanthropic giving of the France Stone Foundation, died Monday in St. Luke's Hospital, where he was being treated for an infection. He was 92.

Mr. Heyman guided one of the city's leading law firms for more than 20 years from the first days it was founded in 1947. He continued daily work at the firm for another two decades until his retirement about 1987, his son, Richard, said.

The firm handled an array of legal work, with a focus on municipal law and corporate labor relations.

Mr. Heyman had a strong sense of duty and pressed the lawyers in his firm to work the same way, whether it was a wealthy client or someone who walked in off the street, Gary McBride, an attorney for the firm, said.

Lawyers at the firm routinely worked weekends. "I remember him telling us that whoever you are working for at this moment is your most important client," Mr. McBride said.

The firm's public-sector work grew significantly after Mr. Heyman recruited his college classmate, Bill Saxbe, to handle the details to convert the University of Toledo from a municipal to a state university in 1967, Mr. McBride said.

Mr. Saxbe later became a U.S. senator from Ohio.

Mr. Heyman was a past president of the Toledo Bar Association and served on the board of the Ohio State Bar Association.

Known for his athletic abilities as a youngster, he played center for the Libbey High School football team and was the team captain in 1930, the year the school won its first city championship.

The popular Mr. Heyman was easily recognized years later when he and his son were downtown. "The streets were crowded and it was like being with a fraternity with everybody saying, 'Hi, Joe, how are you?' "

After retiring, Mr. Heyman directed the work of the France Stone Foundation. It allowed him to keep ties to community activities, his son said.

Mr. Heyman was a board member of the Toledo Area Humane Society and served on the board of Heidelberg University. He was a member for more than 50 years of the Toledo Symphony Association and was past president of the Toledo Opera Association. He was a long-time member of the board at St. Luke's Hospital.

Surviving are his wife, Virginia; daughter, Sally Nelsen; son, Richard; sister, Dorothy MacEacheron; brother, Robert; six grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 4 p.m. Saturday in Waterville United Methodist Church. There will be no visitation. The family suggests tributes to Waterville United Methodist Church or the Toledo Symphony.

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