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Published: Monday, 10/1/2007

Longtime Toledo lawyer served as a naval aviator during WW II

Wilbur C. "Bill" Jacobs, 89, a partner in a law firm who started his legal practice in Toledo in the 1940s, died Friday in the Toledo Club.

The death was an accidental drowning in the club's hot tub, according to Dr. Diane Barnett, a Lucas County deputy coroner.

Mr. Jacobs began his career in 1946 at what is now Marshall & Melhorn LLC in downtown Toledo.

The majority of his work involved defending insurance companies at trials, a job for which he was well-suited, his daughter, Janet Monroe, said.

"He liked to talk and he liked to argue, and he was a trial attorney, so he liked to be the center of attention," she said. "When I watch the TV shows about law, I can very much see my dad."

Mr. Jacobs continued at the firm for close to 20 years before joining what was then Mittendorf, Reiser & Zraik on Madison Avenue in downtown Toledo. He became a partner in the firm in 1973.

Mrs. Monroe said her father was in charge of a different type of caseload at his new firm, yet still dealt with insurance.

On several occasions, he represented individuals against the same type of insurance companies that he had once defended, she said.

At the time of his death, Mr. Jacobs had been a member of the Ohio State Bar Association for more than 60 years.

The son of a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, Mr. Jacobs was born in Rochester, N.Y., and grew up in the Fremont, Mich., area. He attended Hope College in Holland, Mich., and went on to study law at the University of Michigan law school, from which he graduated in 1942.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as an aircraft pilot during World War II. His primary duty was to keep a lookout for German submarines that might lurk off the coast of Florida, his daughter said.

He was immensely proud of his service in the war and wore his Navy pilot wings every day of his life, usually on the lapel of his suit coat, recalled Andrew Anderson, a longtime friend and fellow Toledo lawyer who first met Mr. Jacobs while a student at UM.

Mr. Jacobs also met his wife, Mary, at UM, and they married shortly before he left for the war. They later settled in Toledo because that's where Mr. Jacobs received his best job offer after leaving the service, his daughter said.

The Jacobses moved to Rossford in the early 1960s; Mrs. Jacobs died in Apri, 2006.

Mr. Jacobs enjoyed attending Toledo Symphony concerts and playing bridge at the Toledo Club, where he was a longtime member.

He moved two years ago to the Swan Creek Retirement Village in South Toledo, where he entertained the center's residents and staff with his piano and organ playing, his daughter said.

Surviving are his daughters, Joey Cattermole, Janet Monroe, Jenny Spinrad, and Molly Beaudoin; son, Steve Jacobs; 11 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

There will be no visitation, and services will be private. The Coyle Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Symphony.



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