David Schnorf, 69, an attorney for the Toledo Federation of Teachers for nearly 40 years who became an expert in school labor-management relations, died of liver failure Sunday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.
He had continued to represent Toledo teachers. His first case for the union, in 1968, was an arbitration that Dal Lawrence, president of the union, from 1966 to 1996, said was the first public employee arbitration in the state.
Mr. Schnorf, most recently of Perrysburg, did not start as a labor attorney, Mr. Lawrence said. He was in practice at the time with his late father, Brandon Schnorf, and his brother, Brandon, Jr. He represented Mr. Lawrence in a personal matter in 1963, and the two hit it off.
"He was tough as nails, and he never gave up," Mr. Lawrence said. "He became a public employee attorney strictly through that experience."
Mr. Schnorf handled routine matters and contract negotiations and took the union through the strikes of 1970 and 1978. The Ohio Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers called on his services.
"He was just a really gutty guy, and even though he was a strong, strong Republican and I was a strong, strong Democrat, he just went to work for the underdog every time," Mr. Lawrence said. "He was a dear friend."
Mr. Schnorf was a former president of the Lucas County Bar Association and was a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.
He grew up in the Old Orchard neighborhood of West Toledo and was a 1955 graduate of DeVilbiss High School. He was an all-city linebacker his senior year on the school's championship football team. He was an outfielder on the baseball team and received a baseball scholarship to Ohio State University.
He received a bachelor of business administration degree from Ohio State and, in 1964, a law degree from the University of Toledo.
"His father was his mentor, and he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps," his daughter, Kimberly Isabell, said. "He had a brilliant mind. He was very passionate about whatever he was involved in. That's what made him a good lawyer."
Golf was another passion, and he played at the Inverness Club. He followed history and traveled the world.
"He had a big heart," his daughter said. "His sense of humor was uncanny."
Surviving are his daughters, Laura Chandler, Susan Wineke, and Kimberly Isabell; mother, Lela Schnorf; brother, Brandon Schnorf, Jr., and eight grandchildren.
Memorial services will be at 3 p.m. Friday in the Walker Funeral Home, where the family will greet visitors after 11:30 a.m. Friday.
The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio; the American Heart Association, or the Arthritis Foundation.