Bar Memorials: 2002
The following is a copy of the court transcript of the 2003 Bar Memorials remembering those members of the Bar Association of Lehigh County who passed away during the year 2002.
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEHIGH COUNTY BAR MEMORIALS
William A. Steckel
Bernard B. Naef
James G. Kellar
HONORABLE WILLIAM H. PLATT, P.J.
HONORABLE CAROL K. McGINLEY, J.
HONORABLE THOMAS A. WALLITSCH, J.
HONORABLE EDWARD D. REIBMAN, J.
HONORABLE WILLIAM E. FORD, J.
HONORABLE LAWRENCE J. BRENNER, J.
HONORABLE ALAN M. BLACK, J.
HONORABLE ROBERT L. STEINBERG, J.
February 3, 2003
9:00 o’clock a.m.
Courtroom No. 2
Lehigh County Courthouse
Allentown, PA 18101
MR. RABER: All rise, please . The Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. THE COURT: You may open court.
MR. RABER: Oyez, oyez, oyez. All manner of persons having anything to do before the Honorable, the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County and which is here holden this day, let them come forward and they shall be heard. God save the Commonwealth and this Honorable Court. Please be seated.
THE COURT: Good morning. On behalf of my colleagues on the Court of Common Pleas, I personally welcome you to the Annual Lehigh County Bar Association Memorials, a special session of court convened to honor the memories of the members of the Bar Association who passed away during the previous year. The Court recognizes Vanessa Nenni, Esquire, President of the Bar Association.
MS. Nenni: Thank you, Your Honor. May it please the Court, President Judge Platt, the Honorable Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, colleagues, family and friends. On behalf of the Bar Association of Lehigh County, I welcome each of you. Today, on this first Monday of February, we gather to honor, to pay tribute, to celebrate the lives of members of the Bar Association of Lehigh County who passed away this past year. This annual memorial service is one of the finest traditions of the Bar Association. Before we begin, I would first like to thank President Judge Platt and the Honorable Judges of this Court for their continued commitment to this tradition. I would also like to thank Attorney John Baker, who has, over the years, diligently and whole heartedly, embraced this event. It is because of his generosity and his hard work that we’re able to share with you in the memory of your loved one. It is my great honor and privilege to share this morning with you as we take time to celebrate and reflect on the lives of individuals who leave behind a legacy of great works, great wisdom and rich memories. Each of them has in some way touched our lives. They were our colleagues and they were our friends. For many of us, they were our mentors. They were our role models. They were what we aspired to be. Although, they’re not here with us today, they are here with us in spirit. We were touched by their presence on Earth and forever blessed by their memories. They are greatly missed. Thank you. At this time, I turn this morning’s memorial services over to Attorney John Baker. John?
MR. BAKER: Thank you. With the Court’s permission, I would like to introduce our speakers for today. Five fine lawyers who are speaking about five fine lawyers. These lawyers not so coincidentally were fine husbands, fine fathers, fine colleagues and fine friends. Bernard Frank was admitted to the Bar Association on May 15th, 1939. I’d like to introduce at this time Attorney Alan Penn.
MR. PENN: May it please the Court, good morning members of the Bar, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Alan Penn and I am a member of the Bar Association of Lehigh County and admitted to this court both since 1971. I am here to honor the memory of Bernard Frank, my father?in?law, who became a member of the Bar Association in 1939. And at the time of his death, in January, on January 21st, 2002, at age eighty?eight, was, including his time of service in World War II, a member of the Bar Association for approximately sixty?three years, of which I had the opportunity and privilege to serve with him for thirty?one years in practice with him. He is survived by his wife, Muriel, to whom he was married for sixty?three years; a daughter, Roberta, who is my wife and here; and a son, Allan, of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County. He is also survived by four beloved granddaughters: My daughter, Dara, who is here, an attorney in Philadelphia, and a third generation lawyer; Rhonda, a social worker at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Adrienne, age ten; and Kimberly, age one?and?a?half, both daughters of Allan Frank. Bernard Frank had a varied legal career, which included a service as an assistant US Attorney in Philadelphia, and as an Assistant City Solicitor with the City of Allentown. He was also a finalist for a Federal District Court position, which was eventually filled by Judge John Fullam. Some of his legal associates over the years included David Getz, Emmanuel Scoblionko, Bill Malkames, Fred Nabhan, the Honorable John Backenstoe, and over the last three plus decades, with his nephew, Jerome B. Frank, and myself, and later Paul Frank, Jerry’s son, both of whom are also here. His service in World War II was after he was in the process of establishing his law practice, and after age thirty, which service was a very defining part of his life. He was very proud of his military service and I believe that his highest rank he received was a Master Sergeant. His first assignment was as an operating engineer, and which most would agree that know him, an interesting assignment for a very intellectual lawyer. He later served in the Judge Advocate Corp. After the war he was president of the fifty thousand plus member of the 94th Infantry Division Association and attended many of its annual meetings throughout the United States up until about five years ago. He suffered a hearing loss as a result of his war service, and until an operation reversed the hearing deficit, he wore a hearing aid. He often told the story about the time that he was involved in a trial before Judge Henninger when his hearing aid went dead. He asked the judge for a recess so that he could go uptown to buy a new battery. The judge told him that he was doing just fine without being able to hear. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. PENN: He often also told the story about a case he had in which he was representing a client who was attempting to obtain Workers’ Compensation. Apparently, this individual fell out of a cherry tree on the property of a customer, all part of the process of trying to make a sale. The case was appealed to the Superior Court and, apparently, Bernard Frank won the case on the theory that a salesman has to do whatever he has to do in order to attempt to make the sale. I believe this is a reported case available to anyone doing research in this area. One of his greatest loves was his activity in the Ombudsman movement. Although, not well known locally, he was an internationally renowned Ombudsman scholar and chairman of the American Bar Association Committee of the Ombudsman, The International Bar Association Committee of the Ombudsman, the International Ombudsman Institute headquarters in Alberta, Canada, and he also served as a special assistant to the President of the City Council of New York, Paul O’Dwyer, in connection with Ombudsman activities. He was the author of at least six law review articles on the subject, and anyone doing research on the Ombudsman concept will undoubtedly come across his scholarship. In recognition of this service, he received the Order of the North Star rank of commander from the King of Sweden in a ceremony sponsored by the Consulate General of Sweden in the United States. In further recognition of his world renown in this area, he was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Law Degree from his Alma Mater, Muhlenberg College, where he also served on the Board of Trustees. He was also very active in the Institute for Christian Jewish relations at Muhlenberg College, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, as well as the Jewish Publication Society of America, and the National Liberty Museum, both of Philadelphia. I can personally attest to the fact that over my thirty?one years of association with him in the practice of law that he was clearly not only a lawyer with the highest integrity, but a student of the law. His many self?prepared notebooks on legal subjects demonstrate that. He was a very valued counselor to many corporations and individuals in the Allentown area, and served as secretary and member of the board of directors of Hess’s Department Stores, and as counsel and member of the Board of Directors of Allen Organ Company having represented both companies when they went public. The loyalties of his legal secretaries and support staff also attest to the respect he received. Two of his staff members, Marlene Mace and Donna Csaszar, were with him over thirty years. And Marlene Schwindenhammer, whose last position was an office manager, was with him for forty?eight years. And some of the staff are in the back of the room today. He was known for his wit and quiet charm, and which was often demonstrated in his frequent capacity as a master of ceremonies in many organization affairs and banquets. He had an extensive card catalogue of jokes indexed by subject matter. Those who practiced with him and/or were employed by him knew that he had a favorite term of endearment for people who did something ill advised, a pudding head. Unfortunately, his obituary in the Morning Call did not appear until after the funeral because of production problems. Family and friends would laugh at what he would have said at such a circumstance. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. PENN: In any case, over three hundred fifty people attended his funeral. A few days later, an editorial was printed in the Morning Call recognizing his accomplishments in the community and the world. It was titled, An Allentown Mensch. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. PENN: I believe that says it all. Thank you.
MR. BAKER: Milton Lowy was admitted to the Bar Association on March 23rd, 1942. And I now ask Edward Cahn to come give his remarks.
JUDGE CAHN: May it please the Court, President Judge Platt and his colleagues, officers and members of the Bar Association of Lehigh County, relatives and friends of those lawyers to be memorialized today, and especially Mrs. Margaret Lowy, who has asked me to speak to you today about her husband, Attorney Milton Lowy. Milton Lowy was born way back on May 19th, 1913. His parents, Julius and Dora Lowy, had a small store in Coplay, Pennsylvania. Julius emigrated from Hungary. Dora emigrated from Austria. Milton was a first generation American. Milton is also survived by his sister, Mildred Glickman. Milton graduated from Allentown High School, Muhlenberg College and Temple University School of Law. During his high school and college days, Milton played guitar, first with the Bud Rader Orchestra, and later with his own orchestra known as the Milton Lowy Orchestra. His earnings from these musical endeavors defrayed his expenses at college and law school. Milton Lowy was admitted to the Bar of this Court in 1942, and except for the war years, served continuously as a lawyer in this community. And when I came to the court house this morning, I walked past his office on Fifth Street where the sign still hangs. Milton practiced until his death on July 1st, 2002. During the Second World War, Milton was not eligible for military service because he was color blind, but he became a civilian employee of the United States Navy where he physically handled high explosives. Milton is of a different generation from most of us. Although, I had many dealings with him when I came to the Bar in 1959, I did not become really close to him until I was invited to join the Rialto Group as a full?fledged member. This group was organized by Attorney Joseph Fruhwirth, Attorney Harry Crevling and Judge Donald Wieand, all of whom were prominent members of the Bar Association of Lehigh County. Other members besides me included Judge Maxwell E. Davison, President Judge William Platt, Attorney Ray R. Brennen, Attorney Karl Y. Donneker and Attorney James G. Kellar, who will be memorialized later this morning. There are two provisional members who were never formally accepted into the Rialto Group. They are District Attorney James B. Martin and Attorney Wallace C. Worth, Jr. I believe you will readily understand why the august Rialto Group had reservations about those two. (At which time there was laughter.)
JUDGE CAHN: This group would meet for lunch every Thursday at the Allentown Knights of Columbus, and on occasion, would have summer and holiday meetings, mostly at Karl Donneker’s house, but sometimes at other fine facilities. The Group was named by Ray Brennan after a line in Shakespeare to the effect of “what’s new on the Rialto”? The Rialto is in Venice and the significance of the name, for our purposes, is that the luncheons were focused on an exchange of political data, which some might term gossip. (At which time there was laughter.)
JUDGE CAHN: Of course, after having many, many luncheons with the Rialto Group, I got to know Milton Lowy very well. I learned that he was a credit to the legal profession because, unlike the stereotypical lawyer, Milton was a man of humanity and decency. It would be hard to pick a fight with Milton. And even the overly aggressive prosecutors in the Rialto Group were always cordial to him. (At which time there was laughter.)
JUDGE CAHN: Milton represented his many clients honestly and counseled those he represented to avoid litigation and legal entanglements. Consequently, he had a comfortable practice with an emphasis on real estate, will drafting and estate administration. Primary among Milton’s accomplishments were the organization of the Allentown Federal Savings and Loan Association. He obtained a charter for this group from Washington DC, and was its founder and chief executive officer until it merged with First Federal Savings and Loan of Philadelphia, which is now Firstrust. As a child of the depression, Milton was not a spendthrift. He was a careful conservator of his assets and made sound investments in real estate and securities. He was involved in charitable activities, including the Lehigh Valley Hospital and his Alma Mater, Muhlenberg College. I am proud to have known Attorney Milton Lowy, who was my friend for so many years and who always conducted himself in the highest traditions of the Bar Association of Lehigh County. With Milton Lowy, his word was his bond. In closing, I would like to recite some lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar. Tennyson is, of course, not referring to the Bar of the Court, but the imagery is appropriate. This lyric, at the poet’s request, is always placed at the end of every edition of his poems. And it is fitting, it seems to me, that this recitation concludes my tribute to a man of substance and character, Attorney Milton Lowy.
Crossing the Bar. Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the
turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
MR. BAKER: James Watt will now memorialize Bernard B Naef, who was admitted to the Bar January 8th, 1946.
MR. WATT: John, may it please the Court, fellow lawyers and guests. Bernie Naef grew up in the depression. He went to Muhlenberg College and graduated 1940, and then from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1943. He served in the Army Air Corps as a sergeant. In 1943 to 1946 and upon his release he was admitted to the Bar. He is survived by two children, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. He was a communicant of the Methodist Church, member of the Lions Club, Elks Club, and he was a Mason. He died at age eighty?four. Bernie is best remembered as the City Solicitor of Allentown and as the Lehigh County Solicitor. And that’s how I knew him. Bernie had hired me as an assistant county solicitor. I had just left my employment with a law firm and started out on my own, and five days later I ruptured a disk in my neck and was unable to attend my duties anywhere and had no income. Bernie kept me on as a county solicitor for the next four months until I was able to regain the use of my right arm. Forever then I will be grateful to him. Bernie is what we call a sole practitioner. He was never in a partnership. He was never in a firm. He did the usual things, wills, small estates, divorce, adoptions, JP hearings, anything where people needed a lawyer to help them and which provided a steady income. After his term as county solicitor was up, I saw him mainly at the A&B Restaurant. He liked to sit in the corner and listen to the lawyers banter. He never said much, but he enjoyed being with the lawyers. And then he dropped out of site. I haven’t seen him for years. I guess he retired. Bernie was a sole practitioner, as I said, did nothing big, nothing earth shattering. He helped people who needed help. And he didn’t cause any significant harm that I know of. He was like most of us, in the hope we can all say as much at the end. May God bless Bernie and may God bless us all. Thank you.
MR. BAKER: William Steckel was admitted to the Bar on September 2, 1947. Charles Stopp will give his remarks.
MR. STOPP: Thank you. May it please the Court, family members and guests. Attorney William A. Steckel passed away on December 21, 2002. He was my partner, mentor, and friend. He was pre? deceased by his first wife, Beulah Steckel, and survived by his present wife and widow, Artus Steckel, who is here today. Bill had three boys, Eric, Fred, Paul, two step?children, Kim and John. Bill was a member of the Pennsylvania legislature for many years and served as chairman of the House Banking Committee and served very proudly. He was admitted to private practice in 1947. Prior to that time, he was a law clerk for a Federal judge in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, when he would speak fondly of the days of being a law clerk with the Federal judge, because in those days, Federal judges were assigned ? just ask Judge Cahn ? to various places throughout the country. He had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco, as I recall, New Orleans, and he came back with a number of stories which he cherished for the rest of his life. He served on a number of municipal boards, such as the Northern Lehigh School District, Lowhill, Heidelberg, Weisenberg Townships, Borough of Slatington, Slatington Borough Authority and School Authority. And I recall a fond story, humorous story of when, as many of the Bench and Bar will recall, we were all confronted with the Sunshine Act. And back in those days, many of the township supervisors, particularly, were not very enamored by the Sunshine Act, which essentially required that all business, except for a number of exceptions, occur in public. Many of the township supervisors back in those days were accustomed to going in the back room of a township building, sometimes a garage, to discuss what they believed to be sensitive subjects, not necessarily to hide things from the public; basically, township officials back at that time were shy. The subject came up in one of the local meetings in the northern part of the county, this was after the passage of the Sunshine Act ?? and if we have a volunteer from a member of the Bench, I will be very happy. The supervisors did not want the newspaper and newspaper reporters to deal with the subject at hand. So instead of conducting the meeting in English, they lapsed very quickly to Pennsylvania German. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. STOPP: Bill, of course, could speak the dialect very well. The media was very frustrated. The meeting went on and business was decided. In the next month’s meeting when the minutes of the meeting were recorded, though, they were recorded in English, and thereafter reported. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. STOPP: Your Honors, do we have a violation of the Sunshine Act? (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. STOPP: Bill was his high school valedictorian, Dickinson College and Dickinson School of Law. He was very involved in his church activities, sang on the chior for many years, served on the consistory. He was president of this Bar Association in Lehigh County. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association House of Delegates. He was president of charitable organizations, including the Slatington Rotary Club. He was named man of the year in 1954. He was president at the time of what had been Slatington National Bank and Trust Company, which later merged into ?? into ?? into ?? into, which is now First Union. In the interim, however, he served on the advisory committee of Meridian Bank at the time. He enjoyed ping?pong and played avidly in the string quartet. He liked hiking, travelling, and he’d come back with fond stories of trips to the Great Wall, Pyramids of Egypt, to Ireland. In fact, one time he came back from a trip to Ireland and he made a discovery. At the time, the discovery was ?? I think it was Irish Bushmills Whiskey. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. STOPP: He said to me, you have to try some of this. It’s wonderful stuff. I may have the name wrong, but the concept is correct. He sipped on that and provided some to me and told me about his trip to Ireland. He also lapsed into his version of how the Kennedy clan made their fortune by, both perhaps legal and perhaps not so legal, importation of Irish whiskey. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. STOPP: Bill would be proud to not be among those who are called politically correct. He held some very strident views. He was a political and moral conservative and he would be very, very proud not to be in that category in today’s society. He did many things for his community. He incorporated a number of nonprofit organizations, swimming pool organizations, Lions Clubs, fire companies, and helped them with their various Federal exemption status and so on. He was a member of the real estate investment group called Rodgers. When our local public library was running out of room, Rodgers owned a building, a Five and Ten. Through his efforts, they donated that building to the public library. That building now is a very, very nice building, beautifully appointed, terrific wood work, if you have a chance to visit what is now the Slatington Public Library. A number of years ago, not many years ago, he served as Borough Solicitor in Slatington for many, many years. Bill owned about forty?eight acres of land in the northern part of the county, which he enjoyed to use for hiking, cutting wood for his Franklin stove and fireplace. Other family members used it for hunting and other reasons. Bill decided he wanted to give something additional back to the town. Bill donated forty?eight acres of land to the Borough to be used for the preservation of the watershed. A number of years ago I was rooting through our library looking for books and what did I come across? I came across a bound volume, I hope you have this at home, perhaps you’ve seen it, a bound volume of the Special Session of the Pennsylvania Legislature. And it was after President Kennedy was assassinated. And out of all of the elected officials in the state legislature, who was called upon to preside over the memorial service, but Bill Steckel. And I have to wonder now whether perhaps someplace above us, perhaps President Kennedy is now sitting with Bill in a tribute or thanks to him for having conducted the memorial service for the state legislature. And perhaps they are both sipping on some Irish Bushmills whiskey. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. BAKER: James G. Kellar was admitted to the Bar on November 9th, 1953. Here to speak on behalf of Mr. Kellar is Emil Kantra.
MR. KANTRA: May it please the Court, Aunt Lois, Cousin James. My relationship with Jim Kellar spanned fifty years; twenty?five of those as a colleague, fifty of them as a family member. Growing up he was Uncle Jim. When his sister, my mother, Ellen, untimely lost her husband and was left with the un?enviable task of raising two strong?willed adolescents and later two strong?willed teenagers, Jim was a father figure, as were other people in the courtroom. One of the things that impressed me about Jim was throughout his life, the commitment he gave to extended family, a rare thing in today’s society. Day in and day out, year in and year out, if there was a crisis in the family, Jim was there, and the family stuck together. Jim started his practice as a personal injury attorney in Philadelphia. Later, he migrated to Carbon County and practiced with Marty Phillips, and later established a law practice with his partner, George Joseph, then DA in Lehigh County. My first connection with Jim, as far as the law, was as a junior high school student when I expressed an interest in being an attorney, and Jim made arrangements for me to sit in on a homicide trial that George Joseph was trying in this court house. It was a great experience. Some of us seem to practice law for the money. And some of us seem to practice law for the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. And some of us seem to practice law because we don’t know what else we would do. And I quote from Allen Penn, Jim was a student of the law. While I probably didn’t appreciate it as much when I was a young attorney, as I became what I am, unfortunately, now, a middle?aged attorney, I came to appreciate Jim’s intellect. Even now, when I’m working on matters Jim started and I’m finishing, I’m amazed how he never lost a true interest in the law and had a true bona fide love of the law, notwith? standing the fact that practicing law today, I suspect, is somewhat different than it was when Jim started years ago. In spite of Jim’s great intellectual capacity and his love of the law, he always had empathy for his clients and what I’ll call home?spun wisdom. While his colleagues would probably most remember him for the high profile, controversial and contentious land use matters that he handled, there were generations of families that came to rely on Jim, and trust him for his advice in day?to?day affairs, which were not big in the cosmic scheme of things, but truly affected them greatly. Their reliance was never misplaced. Jim and I practiced together for a period of twenty?five years, and for the most part, got along very well. Although, there were occasions when he kind of let me down a little bit. When his secretary of twenty?five years plus, Helen Siska, retired, he took my secretary of ten years, Ronnie Moyer. It took several years for me to get over that, but I moved on and I forgave him. I remember in the area of home?spun wisdom, when I first started practicing with Jim he cautioned me, remember, the guy or the gal that’s the janitor today may be the township supervisor tomorrow. Not that Jim would have treated that person any differently because of that thought, because he was always a gentleman. I practiced law long enough to see that that advice was a truism and has happened time and again. And in fact, there are some township supervisors that are now the janitor. A couple of months before Jim passed away my wife and I were having a discussion with our eleven?year?old daughter. And it was one of those ?? really, an argument, and she didn’t really have much to go on, but she was in her true fashion advancing her point as best she could. And I said, you know, Noel, you know what Uncle Jim always said, if the law is in your favor, you pound on the law; if the facts are in your favor, you pound on the facts; and if there’s nothing in your favor, you pound on the table. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. KANTRA: I knew we were in trouble because my daughter’s eyes lit up and said, you know, Dad, I think I really want to be a lawyer. (At which time there was laughter.)
MR. KANTRA: We practice in a much maligned profession. Sometimes the system is perceived as falling short from what it should deliver and sometimes it does fall short. It sometimes is difficult to understand what we can do to elevate our profession and to achieve more respect in the eye of the public. I would submit to my colleagues here that simply following Jim Kellar’s example we can achieve that result. Thank you.
MR. BAKER: Before I turn this special session back over to the Court, I would like to thank all of our speakers today. It is difficult to find speakers that are willing to open themselves up emotionally and to put something on paper and to devote the time. I really am appreciative of that. I turn this session back over to the Court.
THE COURT: Before we adjourn this special session, may I thank the Bar Association for continuing this wonderful tradition. I thank John Baker, chairman of the committee, for all of the hard work that he has done year in and year out. And thanks, also, to all of the speakers who have memorialized our departed colleagues. This is a great tradition to share in their lives, as we have done today. The official court reporter is directed to transcribe the notes of testimony and to make a digital copy of the memorial available to the Bar Association of Lehigh County. Last year this was done for the first time and the Bar Association published the entire transcript on its home page. For your information, that’s www.lehighbar.org. Anyone interested in a copy will be able to read or download it from that site. Are there any members of the Court who wish to make any remarks? (No response.)
THE COURT: If not, then we will adjourn this ceremony, and when we do so, it will be out of respect for our departed colleagues.
MR. RABER: All rise.
This memorial session is adjourned.
(Whereupon, the memorial ceremony concluded.)
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I. I hereby certify that the proceedings are contained fully and accurately in the notes taken by me of the above cause and that this is a correct transcript of the same.
DATE: , 2003
Maureen J. Reilly, RPR Official Court Reporter