Ralph Bragg, who became a partner in the Toledo law firm that hired him after he graduated from Harvard University and who honed an expertise in real estate matters, died Monday in Swan Creek Retirement Village, after a heart attack. He was 82.
He had Alzheimer’s disease, but his death was unexpected, his son Mike said.
Mr. Bragg retired from what is now Spengler Nathanson PLL at age 65 and remained “of counsel” with the firm until he was 70. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1959.
After Harvard Law School, he returned to Ohio, stopping at law firms around the state to introduce himself.
At Spengler Nathanson, “he walked in and interviewed and was hired on the spot.”
He was the eighth attorney hired by the firm, formed in 1947 as Spengler, Nathanson, Hebenstreit, and Heyman, said his son, a partner in the firm. The elder Mr. Bragg did whatever was asked in the then-small firm, gravitating toward real estate “because of the needs of the firm,” his son said.
“He really liked dealing with people and putting things together, as opposed to litigating disputes,” his son said. “He liked being a problem solver.
“He was the most honest lawyer I’ve ever known,” his son said. “He had a very calm demeanor. He did not fly off the handle, and he was smart.”
Passage of a state condominium law prompted a request that he develop expertise in the subject for a client. He worked on documents for a development at Belmont Country Club in Perrysburg and for the Anchor Pointe Boat-a-minium adjacent to Lake Erie.
Joseph Nathanson, a co-founder of the firm, represented the cable television service founded in 1965 by Blade co-publishers Paul Block, Jr., and William Block from the earliest days of Buckeye Cablevision — now Buckeye Broadband. Buckeye and The Blade are owned by Block Communications Inc.
Mr. Bragg assisted Mr. Nathanson at first, later taking a lead in representing Buckeye.
“He had a great sense of humor and was well versed in what he was doing,” said Tom Dawson, a retired Buckeye executive who went to the cable system after working at The Blade. “I worked with him on a number of franchise issues. He was a mentor when I first went out there.”
Mr. Bragg invited Buckeye executives to an annual poker party at his family’s Devils Lake cottage in Michigan.
“He was better than the best,” said James W. Dryden, who was vice president of engineering for the cable system. “Anything we had to do, he was able to do for the company.”
He was born April 15, 1934, in Dayton to Helen and the Rev. Emerson Bragg. He grew up in Hamilton, Ohio, and was a graduate of Hamilton High School. He also was a graduate of Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, where he was a math major, played varsity tennis, and was a member of the band. He was a former president of the Otterbein Alumni Association.
Mr. Bragg sang tenor in the choir at Otterbein and later at Park Congregational Church in Toledo, where he served as moderator. He also performed in barbershop-style quartets with other lawyers.
He was a charter member of Laurel Hills Swim and Tennis Club.
Surviving are his wife, the former Ann Brentlinger, whom he married April 3, 1956; daughter, Cathy Leinbaugh; sons, Michael, James, and John Bragg; 11 grandchildren, and a great-grandson.
Visitation will be from 2-7 p.m. Sunday at Coyle Funeral Home. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Park Congregational Church.
The family suggests tributes to the church.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.
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