Piano music was ‘the soul’ of L-O-F lawyer


Carl Forman LaRue, a former vice president, general counsel, and secretary for Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. and an amateur pianist who entertained guests in a specially built music room in his Ottawa Hills home, died Nov. 20 at Sunset House.

Mr. LaRue, 84, died of dementia, an illness that afflicted him for 11 years, said his wife, Ann Lindbloom Relyea.

His professional career was in law, including a brief stint as an assistant U.S. attorney, but his life-long avocation was the piano.

Music, his wife said, “was the soul of his being. … It was terribly important to him.”

His career on the legal staff of various corporations sent him to Chicago and Los Angeles. He returned to Toledo to rejoin L-O-F in 1978, and he had an addition built over the garage of his Ottawa Hills home, with cathedral ceilings and room for his piano and for guests who would fill it for recitals.

“When he was general counsel with L-O-F, he came home and often would practice in the evening,” she said. “He just didn’t give it up when he practiced law.”

He was born in Ann Arbor on Aug. 4, 1929, to Evelina and Carl LaRue. He sang in the Episcopal Church choir there and was taught organ by the choirmaster as a boy.

He moved to Middletown, Conn., for his final year of high school and studied piano there. He continued his music studies at Harvard University, graduating in 1951 with a degree in music.

He served in the Army for two years, stationed in Newfoundland, and after discharge, he studied law at the University of Michigan, where his father was a professor of botany.

After graduation in 1957, he joined the law firm of Fuller and Henry in Toledo, where he stayed until his appointment to assistant U.S. attorney in 1959.

A year later, he accepted a position in L-O-F’s legal department.

His wife said he realized he would never become a concert pianist but continued to play as a skilled amateur for his own enjoyment and to entertain friends and family at gatherings in their home.

The key reason he abandoned his wish to perform professionally was his inability to memorize multiple scores of music, his wife said, although he would do so for short recitals for friends.

In 1960, he teamed up with Norman Thal, a mechanical engineer and fellow pianist, for public recitals. The two pianists had played together for two years and decided public performances would be an example of musical self-discipline, he said at the time.

His musical interests led to an appointment in 1980 to the Toledo Symphony’s board of trustees. He also served on the board of Planned Parenthood.

His wife said he left L-O-F in 1964 because the department head delegated little work, leaving Mr. LaRue with time to slip across the street to a nearby church to practice on its organ.

He joined the legal staff of Armour & Co. in Chicago in 1964 and North American Rockwell in Los Angeles in 1968.

A pending move to Dallas led him to reconnect with L-O-F in 1978. He was named vice president, general counsel, and secretary. He retired in 1987.

Taking after his father, the botanist, he devoted time after retirement to the landscaping at his residence, adding terraces to the slope and planting trees, his wife said.

“He was out there every day in the summer,” she said.

Mr. LaRue enjoyed woodworking and playing tennis at the nearby courts, either doubles or pairs.

He married Jane Stevens Rice in 1956. The couple had two sons before they separated in 1970. He married Ann Lindbloom Relyea a year later.

Surviving are his wife Ann Lindbloom Relyea; Carl Steven and Edward Rice LaRue; stepson, Eric Lindbloom Relyea; stepdaughter, Sarah Flemming, and five grandchildren.

His body was donated to the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio.

Arrangements were by Bersticker-Scott Funeral Home.

There was no visitation, although a memorial service is planned after the holidays in his piano room.

The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Symphony or Planned Parenthood.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: or 419-724-6050.