James E. Goranson, 58, a lawyer who joined his father's firm and became an expert in banking, real estate, and probate law, died Tuesday in his Sylvania home of cancer.
He learned he had cancer 5 1/2 years ago. Several months later, his wife, Vickie, learned she had breast cancer, and they battled their diseases together.
"We were two peas in a pod," said his wife, who received a five-year clean bill of health in May. "It's our strong faith and our very strong relationship that saw us through this. We are surrounded by amazing family and friends."
Mr. Goranson worked through January. He celebrated his birthday in May.
"He was quite the character that night. Jim was always the life of the party and really had a good time and enjoyed his close friends," his wife said.
Born May 7, 1952, he was the son of Jeanne and Henry Goranson and grew up in West Toledo. He was a 1970 graduate of Start High School. He received a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1974 from Ohio State University, where he and his wife met.
He made up his mind: He would go to law school.
"He figured every lawyer needs to have a psychology background. We used to joke about that," his wife said.
He received his law degree in 1978 from the University of Toledo and joined his father's firm, where his brother, Roger, was already in practice.
"We realized all our lives we respected how he practiced law," said his brother, whose daughter, Gretchen, has been in practice with the firm since 2003.
Mr. Goranson was knowledgeable in probate, real estate, and banking. The firm represents Charter One Bank and represented its predecessor, People's Savings Association.
"He had an extremely bright, analytical mind," his brother said. "He was not an in-your-face lawyer. He always sought common ground whenever he was involved in a contentious situation."
He served on Toledo Bar Association committees and had been a trustee. He also was a board member of the Neighborhood Housing Services of Toledo.
He was a member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, where his parents were charter members.
"What a statement to his parents. He's continued to be an active member and contributing member," his wife said. "He served on every committee. [He] always looked to, 'What can I do?' and 'Where do you need me?' and 'How can I serve?'•"
He sang tenor in the Aldersgate choir and golfed in the church league.
A few years ago, he used his skill at practical jokes, honed since childhood, to lure his wife into what she thought was a trip to a business meeting. The couple wound up on a cruise ship to Bermuda.
"He pulled it off completely," she said. "He was always up to something. You just never knew what he was planning. When you think of Jim Goranson, you think of laughter and humor. He was absolutely hilarious. When we were going through all of this, we laughed so much and held each other up and supported each other. What a gift that was."
Surviving are his wife, Vickie, whom he married Aug. 31, 1974; daughter, Jacquelyn Brown, and brother, Roger Goranson.
The body will be in the Walker Funeral Home after 2 p.m. tomorrow. A celebration of life will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
The family suggests tributes to the church; the American Cancer Society's Sylvania Relay for Life, or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
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