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Published: Monday, 4/8/2013

Robert G. Morris, 1927-2013: Veteran lawyer in city had been ardent writer

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Robert "Bob" G. Morris. Robert "Bob" G. Morris.
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Robert G. Morris, a lawyer in practice for more than a half-century, a bar association leader, and a prolific writer whose articles, columns, and letters appeared in The Blade, died Thursday in his West Toledo home. He was 85.

He was in declining health for several years, his daughter, Molly, said. He retired in 2005 after 54 years of practice. He represented juveniles, especially early in his career, and he handled probate and real estate cases.

“I think he was always rooting for the underdog,” his daughter said. “He had a lot of integrity, and he really wanted to represent the little people.”

His son, Thomas, said, “He was very thorough and detail-oriented.”

Mr. Morris was a former trustee of the Toledo Bar Association, served on its professionalism committee for 15 years, and was a recipient of the bar association’s Robert A. Kelb Distinguished Service Award. He was a former president of the Lucas County Bar Association. He received the Ohio State Bar Foundation’s highest honor, the Ritter Award, in 2001, and was a distinguished life fellow of the state bar association. He was a master of the bench of the Morrison R. Waite chapter, American Inns of Court.

For several decades, he contributed regularly to the Readers’ Forum in The Blade Pages of Opinion. Some letters were pithy, others dense with detail. In the 1980s and early 1990s, his articles appeared in The Blade’s Toledo Magazine. He wrote about the challenge of learning German — and tangling with the umlaut — and then speaking the language during a trip to Germany. He told the story of “Toledo’s Own Battery,” a unit of soldiers who fought with valor and endured hardship in World War I. And he remembered the houses and neighbors and trees of his Old West End block, which was cleared and excavated for I-75.

In the 1990s and 2000s, he was a regular contributor to the Op-Ed “Saturday Essay.”

“He read widely and knew a lot about many different topics, and what he didn’t know he would always investigate,” his son said.

Mr. Morris also wrote several murder mysteries, though none was published, and was the family historian.

“Sometimes I think Dad had wanted to be a detective,” his daughter said. “There was that side of him trying to figure things out. He always loved puzzles.”

Writing fiction was therapeutic, but it gave way to another to another anti-stress hobby — collecting military miniatures, which he put together and painted with period accuracy, whether it be the Civil War or World War I.

He was born May 22, 1927, the son of Florence and Robert T. Morris. He attended DeVeaux School and was a graduate of the Culver Military Academy. He was a Navy veteran. He received bachelor of business administration and law degrees from the University of Toledo. In 1948, he succeeded his mother as a Republican precinct committeeman and became the youngest central committee member of the Lucas County Republican Party.

He was a trustee for more than two decades of the Lucas County chapter of the American Heart Association, by which he was honored for volunteer service. He was a former executive committee chairman of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. He was a past master of the Sanford Collins Lodge, F&AM and was a past president of the Downtown Exchange Club.

He and his first wife, Mary, had been married for 52 years when she died June 27, 2007. Surviving are his wife, Janet Morris, whom he married June 7, 2008; daughter, Rosemary “Molly” Morris; son, Thomas Morris, and three grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 1 to 8 p.m. Monday in the Ansberg-West Funeral Home, with a Masonic service at 7 p.m. Monday. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the mortuary.

The family suggests tributes to the American Heart Association or the Toledo Bar Association Foundation.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182



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