Sheldon Rubin, 1929-2012: Lawyer was ‘ultimate optimist’


Sheldon Rubin, a Toledo lawyer for nearly 60 years who represented clients through nearly every circumstance, died Wednesday in a Lakewood Ranch, Fla., hospice center. He was 83.

He took a spill while playing tennis last December, his daughter, Dana Rubin-Mollenkamp, said. Kidney failure and other health problems followed.

“My dad was the ultimate optimist,” his daughter said. “Even when he was hooked up to dialysis and having his seizures, his words were, ‘I gotta get up because I have to play tennis’ or ‘I gotta get up and get dressed because I have a big trial.’ ’’

“He never was sad about it,” she said. “He was dreaming to walk and drive — and to play tennis was his biggest thing.”

For more than a decade, he and his wife, Joanne, divided each year between Delray Beach, Fla., and their West Toledo home.

Mr. Rubin had a general law practice at 2127 Monroe St., where his son Daryl, a lawyer, now has his offices.

“My father was a pleasure to work with,” said his son, who joined the practice in the 1980s. “He was incisive, and he always focused on the primary issue and didn’t get distracted by inconsequential material. He was a gentleman and well-respected in the bar as a man of his word. He was committed to the best interests of his clients in every respect.

“He was able to communicate effectively to people of all levels of intelligence, making complicated matters simple for them to understand.”

Mr. Rubin even had a title for the book he planned to write: The Practical Approach to the Practice of Law.

“When he represented somebody, typically they came back for every legal matter they had and sent their family, too,” his son said.

Mr. Rubin was highly thought of in the legal community, said Marvin Jacobs, lawyer and longtime friend.

“He was very conscientious and very kind to people,” Mr. Jacobs said. “[He] was well-prepared for all his cases.”

George Glasser, a retired judge of the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals, went to high school and law school with Mr. Rubin.

“He was very bright and thoughtful and sensitive to his clients,” Judge Glasser said.

Mr. Rubin handled real estate matters; divorces and dissolutions; wills and estates; traffic and, occasionally, criminal cases. He went to the office six days a week and took clients’ calls at home, whatever the hour.

“If he needed to get them out of jail in the middle of the night, he would go,” his daughter said.

He typed his own pleadings on a manual Underwood typewriter. In later years he kept a companion Underwood for parts. His papers were organized and indexed to the letter, without the aid of a computer, and he finished The Blade’s crossword daily besides.

“He could have been a law school professor. He could have gone into politics,” his son said. “He just enjoyed practicing.

“For me the inspiration was having him close by and being able to mentor with him and see how he handled people and how he dealt with complicated situations and took strife into account and was able to ride above it. He was able to inspire his clients, too. My father prevailed on them to do the right thing.”

He was born Nov. 7, 1929, in Milwaukee to Ida and Charles Rubin. He was young when the family moved to Toledo; his father had a North Toledo grocery. He attended Fulton School and Scott High School, but graduated from Central High School in Detroit.

He received bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Toledo. Mr. Rubin wanted to make the world a better place and to help those who were less fortunate, his daughter said. His family was far from well off.

His son said: “It was a real burden for the family to sacrifice and send their son to college.”

Mr. Rubin and his wife played duplicate bridge and held tournaments in their home. He coached his children’s ball teams and taught them to drive.

He and his wife traveled the world and made theater-going excursions to England and Stratford, Ontario — and were season ticket holders of the Toledo Repertoire Theatre and the Village Players. He was a University of Michigan football fan.

He’d been a member of Twin Oaks and Glengarry Country Clubs and the Toledo Racquet Club. As young couples, Mr. Rubin and his wife and Mr. Jacobs and his wife visited Tony Packo’s Cafe on weekends, when strolling musicians from Detroit played for diners, or Centennial Terrace for dancing to big bands.

“He liked to live life to the fullest,” Mr. Jacobs said.

Mr. Rubin was a member of Congregation B’nai Israel.

Surviving are his wife, Joanne, whom he married Dec. 23, 1951; sons, Brent, Daryl, and Kevin Rubin; daughter, Dana Rubin-Mollenkamp; sister, Marlene Russell; 13 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today in the Robert H. Wick/Wisniewski Funeral Home. After graveside services, the family will receive guests in the Sylvania home of his son-in-law, Patrick, and daughter, Dana Rubin-Mollenkamp.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.