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Published: Tuesday, 9/9/2008

Lawyer led local bar association

Michael F. Jilek, 67, a founding member of a Toledo law firm known for his hard work and compassion, died Sunday in his West Toledo home.

The cause of death was unknown, his wife, Jackie Jilek, said. He had not been in ill health.

Mr. Jilek had a strong reputation as a lawyer who devoted himself to the practice of personal injury law.

In 1978, he was a founding member of the law firm Goldberg, Williams, Jilek, and Lafferty.

"Mike was an excellent trial lawyer," said Martin Williams, a longtime friend and fellow founding partner in the firm.

Mr. Jilek represented some high-profile cases over the years and earned respect, Mr. Williams said.

"I think his reputation spoke for itself," he said. "You don't become elected to the presidency of the bar association unless you have a great reputation."

Mr. Jilek was selected president of the Toledo Bar Association in 1991.

The law firm later became Williams, Jilek, Lafferty, Gallagher, & Scott and has since separated into two firms - Williams DeClark Tushman Co. and Lafferty, Gallagher, & Scott LLC.

Mr. Jilek and Mr. Williams grew up together in Cleveland and worked for insurance companies before attending night classes at the University of Toledo college of law.

He was a "gentleman's gentleman" and one of the most caring people Mr. Williams said he knew.

"Mike was a very dedicated individual," he said. "He wore his heart on his sleeve."

Mr. Jilek's law firm established a scholarship at UT in 1997 to help second or third-year part-time law students.

In an August, 2002, Blade article, Mr. Jilek said he understood how difficult it was for night students to balance legal studies and full-time jobs and families.

"We're trying to level the playing field, so to speak," he told The Blade.

He recently was recognized with a distinguished alumni award from the UT law school, from which he received his law degree in 1969.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Dayton in 1964.

After retirement several years ago, Mr. Jilek spent his time volunteering at Toledo Hospital and Little Sisters of the Poor. He also was active in his church, Christ the King.

"He really enjoyed people. Helping people was his big forte," said Mrs. Jilek, his wife of 20 years.

Mr. Jilek also enjoyed traveling, reading, and playing an occasional round of golf.

He was a compassionate man who loved spending time with his grandchildren, Mrs. Jilek said.

Surviving are his wife, Jackie Jilek; sons, Michael Jilek, Patrick Jilek, and Scott Lazur; daughters, Ashleigh Jilek and Christine Hart; mother, Angela Jilek; brother, William Jilek, and five grandchildren.

The body will be in the J. Jeffrey Fretti Funeral Home after 3 p.m. Thursday. Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Christ the King Church.

The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice.



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