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Published: Saturday, 1/15/2011

Lyman Spitzer

The great family dynasties that drove Toledo's commercial and cultural development from the late 19th century well into the 20th bestowed enduring legacies on this city. Lyman Spitzer, who died last week at age 61, was part of that rich heritage.

Mr. Spitzer understood how inseparable his family's history was from Toledo's. He showed the same fervent commitment to his hometown that his famous forefathers did.

The Spitzers put down roots in northwest Ohio more than a century ago. Like other prominent area clans — including the Knights, Stranahans, Libbeys, Fords, and Secors — the Spitzer family wielded a commanding influence in shaping early industry in Toledo. It also assumed an obligation to improve community life and leave a lasting imprint for future generations.

Mr. Spitzer was an eminent local attorney. With his specialties in securities law and intellectual-property protection, he could have practiced anywhere. But he chose to live where he grew up, carrying on the family name in a place he loved.

To Mr. Spitzer, that meant continuing a noble tradition of civic duty. That included preserving the downtown landmark Spitzer Building, constructed by Adelbert Spitzer in the 1890s, actively supporting the arts, and promoting overlooked Toledo treasures.

The death of one of the last members of Toledo's founding families is a big loss to a city that owes those families a great deal. Mr. Spitzer leaves his own mark on the town of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

The passion and dedication he showed to sustain Toledo culture — opera, symphony, theater, historical preservation — are unsurpassed.

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