Morton Bobowick, a lawyer long affiliated with the venerable Toledo firm of Eastman & Smith who melded technical expertise and empathy in his specialty of estate planning, died Friday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 71.
He had cancer and curtailed his practice in 2010 because of his illness, his wife Susan said. He was of counsel at Eastman & Smith then, but had been a partner for decades, she said.
Mr. Bobowick came to Eastman & Smith in the late 1960s. He was good at math and had done well in tax law at school, his wife said, and developed his expertise in estates as he gradually took over from elders at the firm.
“He had a personal touch like no one I’ve ever met in the legal profession,” said Bruce Lazar, who was new to Eastman & Smith in 1999 when he met Mr. Bobowick.
“He could explain things to clients in a way they could appreciate and understand,” Mr. Lazar said. “He had a warmth that made them feel comfortable.”
Mr. Bobowick was a mediator who could bring disparate sides — often of the same family — to compromise, his daughter Marla said.
“He was eminently fair and believed in equity and values and helping people see all the different sides of things,” she said. “He had an analytical mind, but he could understand the emotions that were there, too. He wanted a solution that would bring everyone together.”
Families were grateful, his wife said. “Their sense of appreciation inspired him and made him feel good about what he was doing as a lawyer.”
Mr. Bobowick taught tax law and estate planning at the University of Toledo law school, but also to associates of financial planning and insurance firms.
“He took a lot of the younger attorneys and helped guide them and coach them and facilitated their professional development,” his daughter Michelle said, “and he loved that.”
He was a member of the American College of Trust and Legal Counsel.
The son of Shirley and Norman Bobowick, he was born Oct. 8, 1942, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. At 15, he was a volunteer for the then-new Student Conservation Association at Olympic National Park in Washington state. His daughters followed suit, and he and his wife volunteered with the group in 1992.
“It’s really transformative,” daughter Marla said. “You’re living outside. You learn to be self-reliant, self-sufficient. You’re doing physical labor.”
He was valedictorian at age 16 of his 1959 graduating class at Abraham Lincoln High School. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1962 and Harvard Law School in 1965.
Afterward, he moved to Dayton and was a clerk for Judge Lester Cecil of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati.
He played tennis several days a week during the summer and liked to ski. He volunteered for trail patrol at Wildwood Preserve Metropark.
He baked biscotti and made pumpkin pie and New York-style cheesecake and belonged to gourmet dining groups. He committed to memory vast amounts of poetry and prose, which he was happy to share — from Chaucer to Edward Lear.
“He loved to have fun, to sing, to dance, to be the life of the party,” his daughter Marla said.
Surviving are his wife, Susan, whom he married Feb. 21, 1965; daughters, Marla and Michelle Bobowick; sister, Rita Barga, and two grandchildren.
Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in The Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim, Sylvania Township, of which he was a member.
The family suggests tributes to the Student Conservation Association at thesca.org; Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo, or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.
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