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Published: Thursday, 10/24/2013

Allen D. Gutchess, Jr.; 1928-2013: Engineering, writing skills sparked career in patent law


Allen D. Gutchess, Jr., whose background as an engineer and skill as a writer aided his longtime practice in patent law, died Oct. 15 in his Sylvania home. He was 85.

He was in declining health after a fall more than a year ago, his daughter Holly said.

Mr. Gutchess successfully registered more than 600 patents with the U.S. Patent Office in his career, mostly for small businesses.

“He had to do research with the patent office to make sure there was no other patent like it, and there was no other patent similar, and then he had a draftsman draw up a detailed schematic of the item,” his daughter said.

He also had to fashion a description that caught the invention’s essence. “He was meticulous about the wording. It had to be just right,” his daughter said.

Mr. Gutchess was a 1949 graduate of the University of Michigan, from which he received a bachelor of science degree in industrial and mechanical engineering. Innovation and writing were part of his family background, too.

His great-grandfather, Allen DeVilbiss — after whom he and his father were named — operated an atomizer plant in a shop attached to his home. His father, Allen D. Gutchess, became chairman of the DeVilbiss Co., during which the firm was known as the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of spray-painting equipment and atomizers.

His father also published the company newsletter and wrote many of its brochures and policies, Allen, Jr.’s son Matthew said.

“His love of English and writing came from his father,” his son said.

Allen DeVilbiss Gutchess, Jr., was born May 13, 1928, to Julia and Allen D. Gutchess. He grew up in Ottawa Hills, was a pitcher on the high school baseball team, and a manager of the football team. He received letters in both sports.

He took a semester of courses at UM the summer before his high school senior year. He followed his engineering degree with a master of business administration degree in 1951, also from UM.

He was a Navy veteran of the Korean War. He later worked for Surface Combustion while attending the University of Toledo law school at night. He was admitted to the bar in 1960.

He’d been active in the Sertoma Club in Toledo.

Mr. Gutchess was formerly married to Suzanne Shawaker Moesser.

Surviving are his daughters, Heather Paschall, Heidi Morales, and Holly Bolenbaugh; son, Matthew Gutchess; four grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Visitation will be 2-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Friday in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Epworth United Methodist Church, where he was a lifelong member. The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Area Humane Society; Toledo Botanical Garden, or Epworth United Methodist Church Foundation.

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

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