Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Allan Joseph Conkle, 1918-2012: Lawyer served as WW II officer

Allan Joseph Conkle, 94, a partner in the long-established Toledo law firm of Bugbee & Conkle, died Wednesday at Swan Creek Retirement Village, where he had lived for four years.

The cause of death was not known, his son Tom said.

Mr. Conkle practiced law with the firm for 55 years, and even after he let his law license become inactive, he continued to take the bus downtown to the office in the PNC Building on Madison Avenue, his son said. “He didn’t really retire,” Tom Conkle said, adding that with an inactive license, his father no longer represented clients.

He graduated third in his class from Ohio State University’s law school in 1948 and was recruited by the Toledo law firm of Bugbee, Eickemeyer and Johnson. The firm was renamed Bugbee & Conkle in 1953.

In his initial years, he represented employers in workers’ compensation issues but expanded to commercial law, corporate law, estate planning, and probate law.

Mr. Conkle was born on March 31, 1918, in Hardin County’s Cessna Township to Lyman and Marie Kraft Conkle.

His father died when he was 3 and his mother, who never remarried, moved to Kenton, Ohio, son Tom said.

After graduating from Kenton High School in 1938, he attended Ohio State, where he received a degree in accounting. He moved to Flint, Mich., to work at the Chevrolet plant until the start of World War II.

He enlisted in the Navy’s officer training program that was designed to supplement the Navy’s commissioned officers. His training was in communications, his son said, and he was stationed in Guadalcanal, then was transferred back to the United States, where he received additional training at Annapolis.

He was sent back to the Pacific theater aboard the USS Vicksburg, a light cruiser in the western Pacific. While in Annapolis, he met and later married Martha Jean Jessen, who survives.

Mr. Conkle’s younger brother, Louis, who had become a lawyer, suggested that Allan study law as well.

“They were very close,” son Tom said. “He and his brother Louis had a close bond.”

Allan Conkle returned to Ohio State to get his law degree.

He was named to the Order of the Coif, a national honorary scholastic society for lawyers, as well as to Delta Theta Phi law fraternity.

Mr. Conkle served many years as chairman of the Toledo Bar Association’s grievance committee and was the bar’s president from 1975 to 1976.

Gregory Denny, a partner in Bugbee & Conkle, also said Mr. Conkle never formally retired from the firm, although he stopped active practice in 2000.

“He still came in [the office] right up until the last two years,” Mr. Denny said.

Not only did he continue showing up at the office, but he also walked up 13 flights of stairs to get there, a practice that may have contributed to his longevity, his partner said.

“He often told me he always woke up and wanted to come down to the office,” Mr. Denny said.

Mr. Conkle seldom got excited nor raised his voice in anger, Mr. Denny said.

“He approached the practice pragmatically. He was a very measured man and he lived a measured life,” Mr. Denny said.

He was a founding member of the so-called Lake Erie Bar Association, a group of lawyers who would meet for lunch each Wednesday at the Toledo Club.

The Hon. John Potter, a state and then federal judge in Toledo for 35 years who served as mayor from 1962 to 1967, said Mr. Conkle was the only member who did not graduate from the University of Michigan. “I think they invited him to be a member so they would have someone to bet against” on the OSU-Michigan game, said Mr. Potter, who also lives in Swan Creek Retirement Village.

“Allan was very careful,” Mr. Potter said. “The maximum bet was a buck, and the Michigan guys did pretty well until later, when they began to lose, which made Allan very happy.”

Mr. Conkle held season tickets for Ohio State football for nearly 60 years.

“He went to about every Michigan game [against Ohio State], both home and away,” son Tom said.

Mr. Conkle is survived by his wife of 67 years, Martha Jean; sons, William, John, and Thomas; his brother, Louis; nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Visitation is to be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. today at Coyle Funeral Home, 1170 S. Reynolds Rd. A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Gesu Catholic Church, where he was a member.

Memorials are suggested to the Boy Scouts of America or St. Francis de Sales High School.

Contact Jim Sielicki at:

or 419-724-6050.

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