FIRM HISTORY

Submitted on July 23, 2015
by Thomas D. Logan,
Retired Partner/Distinguished Firm Alumni, 56’

When Sol Rothberg graduated from Indiana University Law School at Bloomington, Indiana, he opened a law office in a pretty bleak, post-depression period.

Of course, that didn’t bother Sol. He loved challenges and took on the challenge of the depression like everything else.

By 1953 Sol had built a prosperous law practice, practicing with some of the leading trial lawyers in the area, including Clarence R. McNabb, former County Chairman and Circuit Court Judge. Sol saw his career challenge as moving from an individual practitioner to creating a larger law firm prominent in the community and among the lawyers. Two young lawyers, both already involved in the practice, presented Sol with this opportunity. Both Thomas A. Gallmeyer, Sr. (“Tom”) and Richard T. Doermer (“Dick”) were sons-in-law to Clarence McNabb, both had been honorably discharged as Officers in the Army and Navy, respectively, both had graduated from Cornell Law School and both were very promising young lawyers.

Sol promised to contribute to the new firm his long standing law practice – in consideration for which Tom and Dick joined the firm that now is known as Rothberg Logan & Warsco. Sol had great faith in both Tom and Dick, and it wasn’t long before his great faith was rewarded. Tom went to work in Republican politics and in a very short period of time became the Republican County Chairman, District Chairman, State Chairman and Representative to the National Convention for the Republican Party in Indiana. Dick, on the other hand, established himself in the commercial area of the practice. He became involved with several banks, some of which he participated in organizing, and served as a financial advisor to many companies and clients who adopted Dick as their general counsel.

Needless to say, all three of the lawyers, Sol, Dick and Tom, were in very short order, very busy lawyers with more legal practice than all three of them could handle.

They then turned their talents to attracting other young lawyers to the Firm – in which endeavor, they had tremendous success. Young lawyers coming to Fort Wayne in those years were anxious to become involved with these three outstanding lawyers and community leaders, and they all worked together to bring a prosperous practice together. The cornerstones of the Firm’s long-term success and professional reputation were set.

Not only did the founders establish a prosperous practice (now over 50 years old), but each succeeded in making many permanent changes which had affects throughout the whole community. For example, the IPFW Business School is now known as the “Doermer Business and Professional Science School.” Tom organized the American Federal Savings & Loan Association. Tom and Dick were both heavily involved in a succession of successes within the Republican Party, and as the final tribute to Dick’s effort in the community, the Health Science Building at St. Francis College in Fort Wayne is now known as the “Doermer Family Health School Building.”

And so the Firm has prospered and has attracted now almost two generations of talented, young lawyers. The Firm continues to grow and to move strategically forward – with the original principles, goals and philosophies of the founders and its many distinguished alumni remaining at its core.

SOL ROTHBERG – founder, partner – in memoriam

Sol Rothberg was born in New York City on July 29, 1910, where he lived until going to school at Indiana University. Sol received his law degree from the Indiana University School of Law in 1933 and for sixty (60) years practiced law at the Firm. During this period, Sol brought to the profession a sense of integrity, industry and competence seldom equaled.

Sol’s accomplishments in the fields of law, business and civic commitment are too numerous to recount. To cite a few will define the depth of his involvement in this community and this state.

Sol was the founding and senior partner of the Firm. He was an active member of the Allen County, Indiana and American Bar Associations. He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. He served for many years as director and chief counsel of Indiana Bank and Trust Company (through mergers and acquisitions now JPMorgan Chase) and served on many committees and organizations related to the banking industry. Sol likewise served on the boards of many successful companies in this area, including the Bowser Company (as chairman for fourteen (14) years), Wabash Smelting Corporation (as chairman for sixteen (16) years), Summit Bank, Pierce Governor Company and Summit Laboratories, Inc.

Sol was a past member of the Board of Directors of Parkview Memorial Hospital, and one of the founders and past president of the Fort Wayne Child Guidance Clinic and served on the executive committee of the advisory board of the Indiana University School of Business. At various times, he was active in all of the key committees of the United Way and was a past president of the Allen County Department of Public Welfare. Sol was a member of the Quest Club of Fort Wayne for thirty-nine (39) years.

Somehow, Sol found time to serve for over twenty (20) years as chairman of the Indiana Employment Development Commission, appointed to that position by three (3) different state governors. This is the agency which was in large measure responsible for the financing of many important economic development projects in Indiana, including but not limited to the Circle Centre project in downtown Indianapolis.

Sol’s involvement and commitment led to his being listed for many years in Who’s Who in America ® and in the Directory of Important Leaders in American Finance and Industry. He was several times president of Achduth Vesholom Temple and of the B’nai B’rith organization and of the Fort Wayne Jewish Federation.

In 1990, Sol was named an Honorary Lieutenant Governor of Indiana. In 1992, Sol was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash by the governor of Indiana, the highest civilian honor the governor can bestow. The award is a personal tribute given to those who have rendered distinguished service to the state and governor.

RICHARD T. DOERMER – founder / retired partner – In memoriam

Born in Fort Wayne, Richard T. (“Dick”) Doermer was a graduate of South Side High School, the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University Law School. Dick enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 and served in the Pacific Theater where he was commissioned an Ensign and honorably discharged as a Lieutenant four (4) years later. He subsequently became a partner with the Firm.

Dick began his long and illustrious career in banking in 1956 when he joined Dime Trust and Savings Bank as Director and Executive Vice President. Becoming president in 1957, he changed the name to Indiana Bank and Trust Company. Through acquisitions, mergers and affiliations, it grew to become Summit Bank, NBD Bank and, eventually, JPMorgan Chase. Doermer remained Chairman and CEO of NBD Fort Wayne until he retired in December of 1993.

During his career, Dick also served on the Boards of Directors of nine (9) other Indiana banks. Dick was also Vice Chairman of Avis Industrial Corporation of Upland, Indiana. In partnership with Leland Boren, Chairman of Avis, it grew to a holding company owning twelve (12) diverse manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and in Canada. Over the years, Dick served as director on the boards of numerous businesses including the Rea Magnet Wire Co., Journal Gazette Publishing Company, Our Sunday Visitor, Kelly Box and Packaging Corporation, the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. Dick was also a member of the Fort Wayne Quest Club for over fifty (50) years.

Dick’s professional life was further defined by his many philanthropic efforts in association with the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne, the United Way of Allen County, the Fort Wayne Community School System, the University of Notre Dame, Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Wayne Parks Foundation, and St. Joseph Hospital.

He was a member of the Advisory Council to the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame. He also served as a member of the Finance Council and Investment Committee for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. He was a director of the United Way and also served as General Chairman of its annual fund campaign. He served on the Board of Trustees for the University of St. Francis. He spent twenty-nine (29) years on the Board of Directors of the Public Employees’ Retirement Fund (PERF), initially appointed by Governor Otis Bowen and reappointed by four (4) succeeding governors.

Governor Joe Kernan presented Dick with the Sagamore of the Wabash for his service to the Indiana Public Employees’ Retirement Fund. The award (the highest civilian honor the governor can bestow) is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered distinguished service to the state and/or governor. In 1990, Dick was named an Honorary Lieutenant Governor of Indiana.

In 2006, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) honored Dick by naming the business school the “Richard T. Doermer School of Business and Management Sciences.” In addition, the Health Science Building at St. Francis College in Fort Wayne is now known as the “Doermer Family Center for Health Science Education.”
During Dick’s lifetime, it was not unusual for a new Firm associate having just passed the bar or having reached some other professional goal to receive a thoughtful, handwritten note of congratulations. Throughout his life, Dick Doermer remained a friend of the Firm and a gentleman to all who knew him.

THOMAS A. GALLMEYER, SR. – founder, partner, In memoriam

Thomas A. (“Tom”) Gallmeyer, Sr. graduated from South Side High School and received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University. After completing a tour of duty in World War II with the rank of Captain, he completed his formal education by graduating from Cornell University School of Law in 1949. Returning to Fort Wayne following law school, he joined Sol Rothberg and Dick Doermer in the creation of the Firm. Tom practiced at the Firm for twenty-six (26) years as a partner before he retired.

Tom was keenly interested in politics. He was chairman of the Allen County Republican Central Committee. He served as an attorney for Allen County and had also been an Associate City Attorney. Having attained the goals sought locally, Tom turned his attention to Indianapolis and the State party organization. He became District Chairman and, ultimately, State Chairman. During his political years he was also an Associate City Attorney and County Attorney.

Tom was a member the Allen County, Indiana and American Bar Associations. His affiliations also included the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Trinity English Lutheran Church.

Tom’s practice area of interest was the representation of financial institutions. Tom was founder of the American Federal Savings & Loan Association and served as its president, chairman of the board and chief executive officer from 1961-1974. Tom also served as secretary and director of First Equity Security Life Insurance Co. and as secretary of Azars, Inc.

GEORGE E. FRUECHTENICHT – Retired Partner – In memoriam

George Fruechtenicht was born in Fort Wayne on July 7, 1925. George attended North Side High School graduating in June 1943. He entered active service in the U.S. Army on October 22, 1943. George served as a staff sergeant in the Battle of the Bulge in the European Theater of operations during World War II. George’s participation in that battle left a life-long impact on him, as it did on the others who served there with him. To be a staff sergeant on the front lines with the Company l393rd infantry was a tremendous responsibility for the nineteen (19) year old from Fort Wayne.

After returning from Europe and receiving his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in February 1946, George enrolled in Depauw University graduating in 1949. George subsequently attended Northwestern University School of Law. After receiving his law degree from Northwestern in 1952, George was admitted to the bar in both Illinois and Indiana.

George quickly developed a reputation as a skilled trial lawyer and was recruited to the Firm in 1955. George bears the distinction of being one of the Firm’s very first associate recruits. George continued as a partner of the Firm until his retirement from active practice in September of 1986, after which he continued to be associated with the Firm in an “of counsel” capacity.

Among his many professional activities and associations, George was active in the Allen County Bar Association, serving as its president in 1970, served on the board of directors of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and served as chairman of the Trial Lawyers section of the Indiana State Bar Association. George’s hard work and reputation as an outstanding trial lawyer earned his selection as a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers in March 1975, at a time when there were only a handful of Allen County attorneys who had received this distinction. George was also a nationally ranked gin player.

George was an excellent lawyer in every field he was required by his clients to practice, but he was particularly adept in litigation. He was always prepared and rigidly followed the trial and disciplinary rules. He was extremely articulate and persuasive in presenting his cases. He had an uncanny ability to evaluate his case, that of his adversaries, and the likely result of trial. Because of these attributes, George was able not only to secure effective results for his clients in trials, but also to dispose of many cases through fair settlements.

His considerable abilities were well-recognized by fellow lawyers and judges alike. It was not unusual for another member of the bar, even those who were not members of the Firm, to seek George’s advice with respect to a case they were about to file or try. George would freely and frankly counsel them. He was truly a lawyer’s lawyer.

When a judge in an adjoining county, before whom George had frequently appeared, requested George to represent him in connection with an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, George readily accepted even though he had done little appellate work himself. George did exemplary work in preparation of briefs and in making arguments before the Supreme Court. The case, Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978), was not only resolved in favor of George’s client, Harold Stump, former Judge of the Dekalb Circuit Court, now deceased, but the decision is considered to be a landmark pronouncement upon the scope of jurisdiction of judges and judges’ immunity from damage liability throughout the United States.

George will be remembered not only for his remarkable ability to approach a case as a serious, hard-working advocate for his client, but also maintaining an attitude of good humor and collegiality that made him a pleasure to work with. He was always generous in sharing these qualities as a mentor for younger lawyers in the Firm.

THOMAS D. LOGAN – Retired Partner – in memoriam

Thomas D. Logan (“Tom”) was a life-long resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana who attended Saint Jude’s and is said to have been the first child baptized in the new church. Tom attended Central Catholic High School where he was awarded three (3) varsity letters and selected to the 1947 All-City Football Team. Tom subsequently attended Notre Dame and played football as a freshman. However, Tom’s true calling was as a student, as quickly manifested by his selection as President of his sophomore class, a position held by his father some thirty (30) years prior.

Tom graduated from Notre Dame cum laude, and from Indiana University Law School with distinction. He was elected to the Order of the Coif and to the National Scholastic Law School Honorary Society. Tom was an Associate Editor of the both the Notre Dame Lawyer and the Indiana University Law Journal. Following graduation, Tom graduated from military Finance School at Fort Benjamin Harrison and was assigned to the United Armed Forces in the Far East where he served eighteen (18) months in Korea. After an honorable discharge, Tom accepted a position as Teaching Fellow at Indiana University Law School at Bloomington.

He then began an almost sixty (60) year affiliation with the Firm, which bears his name, with a host of highly esteemed partners (and distinguished alumni of the Firm), including Sol Rothberg, Richard T. Doermer, Thomas A. Gallmeyer, Sr., and George E. Fruechtenicht. He was associated with the American College of Health Care Lawyers, American Associates of Airport Executives, and National Association of Bond Lawyers, and specialized for many years in the practice of healthcare law. During his practice he served as counsel to various hospitals in the northeastern part of the state, the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, and the Fort Wayne Allen County Airport Authority, and acted on behalf of many corporations and individuals. He served as President of the Allen County Bar Association in 1979 and 1980.

Tom was selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America® during the years 1991 thru 2006, and featured in a 2009 Indiana Lawyer article entitled “Setting a Legal Precedent.” Tom had great influence on his sons Timothy and Paul Anthony Logan, and nephews F.L. Dennis (“Denny”) and James Emmett Logan, all of whom chose to become lawyers. Tom Logan served as Co-Managing Partner of the Firm from 1981 – 1987. Following in his footsteps, Denny Logan subsequently served as managing partner of the Firm for many years and continues as an equity partner of the Firm today.

Tom was a member and served on the Board of Directors of various local organizations including the Parkview Hospital Foundation where he also served as President. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus Counsel 4048 where he served as Grand Knight. He was a member of Quest Club, where he served as President. He was on the Board of Directors of the Fort Wayne Country Club. Tom was an avid golfer and bridge player. Tom also enjoyed world travel with his wife, Carol, and there was nary a location he did not visit.

Tom Logan was a terrific lawyer, a class act, and a genuinely kind person. He was a family man who successfully balanced the rigors of law with family life. His clients remained deeply loyal to him throughout his life with many of the professional and corporate relationships he developed remaining good friends of the Firm to this day.

Tom maintained an office at the Firm for many years after his official retirement from practice. Rarely a day passed during his lifetime that he was not present in the office – to the delight of all. In one of his last endeavors on behalf of the Firm, Tom Logan worked with the partnership to preserve its written and photographic history as well as that of its distinguished alumni – helping to ensure that future generations of lawyers of the Firm will seek to emulate the high professional standards and active community involvement set by Tom and all of the distinguished alumni. Tom will be greatly missed.

Please click this link to see a 2009 Indiana Lawyer article highlighting Tom’s esteemed career.

The honorable VERN E. SHELDON – retired partner – in memoriam

Judge Vern E. Sheldon was a Fort Wayne native, having attended Fort Wayne Community Schools and graduating from Central High School in 1949. During high school, Judge Sheldon was both an outstanding student and a nationally recognized high school public speaker. Judge Sheldon graduated Cum Laude from Franklin College in 1953, and with a Juris Doctor Degree with Distinction from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1956 as well as receiving recognition in the Order of the Coif. While at law school he both published articles and, as a 3L, served as Editor-in-Chief of the Indiana Law Journal.

Following graduation from law school, he was commissioned as 1st Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the United States Army in 1957. He served with distinction as Post Judge Advocate of the Pine Bluff Arsenal Troop from 1957 until 1960.

Upon completion of his military duties he associated himself and soon became a partner with the Firm. Judge Sheldon continued here at the Firm for a period of twenty-five (25) years, distinguishing himself as an outstanding trial lawyer, well-known, popular, and much sought after legal advisor specializing both in litigation and municipal law, where he served both as an Associate City Attorney and as Attorney for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority.

In 1985, he was selected as a Judge in the Allen Superior Court where he continued to serve with distinction until his retirement on December 31, 1998. During his judicial service, he served as Chief Judge from 1989 through 1991, and was primarily assigned the responsibility of supervising trials of complex and delicate legal issues. Judge Sheldon was highly regarded by all of his colleagues as an outstanding Judge, totally dedicated to his judicial responsibilities, always cordial and thoughtful to the lawyers appearing before him, to witnesses, and to the many jurors over whom he exercised responsibilities.

Judge Sheldon’s professional affiliations included the Indiana Judicial College; Indiana Judicial Conference (Judicial Administration Committee 1992-1996); Probate Committee 1997- 1998; Allen County Bar Association (President, 1984-1985); Indiana State Bar Association (House of Delegates, 1983-1988; Secretary, Board of Managers, 1987- 1988); Benjamin Harrison American Inn of Court (President 1994-1995); Indiana Judges Association; and American Bar Association. Since 1992, Judge Sheldon was Marquis’ Who’s Who in American Law.

The Judge was active in innumerable local civic organizations, including the Fort Wayne Quest Club, the Fort Wayne Country Club, the Fort Wayne Rotary Club, and the Valley Lodge of Fort Wayne Scottish Rite, having served as a past Commander in Chief from 1975-1977.

Upon retirement from the Allen Superior Court on December 31, 1998, Judge Sheldon received the Sagamore of the Wabash from Governor Frank O’Bannon. The award (the highest civilian honor the governor can bestow) is a personal tribute given to those who have rendered distinguished service to the state or to the governor.

Judge Sheldon continued his interest in civic organizations via active participation as a volunteer for Franklin College and the Indiana University Law School at Bloomington, Indiana until the time of his death.

JOHN H. HEINEY – Retired Partner – In memoriam

Born January 15, 1934, and raised in Huntington, Indiana, John Heiney attended Indiana University from 1951 to 1955, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts; and, Indiana University Law School from 1955 to 1958, graduating with the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence.

While at Indiana, John was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, 1951 – 1955 and its president, 1954 – 1955; vice president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, 1954 – 1955; manager for the IU basketball team, 1951 – 1953; member of the Student Foundation; Steering Committee and the chairman of the Organized Party, 1954 – 1955.

Among his finest memories while in Bloomington included working for the Dean of Students, Herman B Wells, the Eleventh (11th) President and Chancellor of Indiana University who was pivotal in the transformation of Indiana University into a world-renowned educational institution. Mr. Wells is also credited with the desegregation of Indiana University in the late 1950s.

John was a practicing attorney and partner at the Firm for over fifty (50) years. His practice centered on complex estate planning services and business succession planning. He was a member of the Allen County Bar Association, the Indiana State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. A loyal Indiana University alumnus, John was a member of the Alumni Association, Varsity Club, Hoosier Hundred and Well House Society.

John was also past president of the Allen County Varsity Club, Allen County Alumni Association, Wildwood Park Community Association, Orchard Ridge Country Club; past director of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and life-long member of the Fort Wayne Quest Club. He was also the author of Fifty Years of Fine Music, Fort Wayne Philharmonic and editor of The Quest of Fort Wayne.

MILFORD M. MILLER III – Retired

Milford M. (“Tim”) Miller has had a long, distinguished career as a litigator, with more than two hundred fifty (250) jury trials and several hundred bench trials. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a distinction bestowed on less than 3% of all attorneys in the United States. He has been uniquely honored for twenty (20) consecutive years as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in the diverse categories of commercial litigation and medical malpractice defense and had been designated an “Indiana Super Lawyer” since the award’s inception in 2004 until his retirement.

Tim’s remarkably comprehensive practice has dealt with product liability; commercial litigation, including tax court contests; utility matters, including rates and regulations; environmental matters; defense of professionals, including physicians, engineers, architects and police officers; construction litigation; and employment discrimination matters.

Tim maintained an active appellate practice and authored scores of appellate briefs and participated in dozens of appellate arguments in the Indiana Court of Appeals, the Indiana Supreme Court and the U.S. Seventh Circuit.

Tim is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Indiana University School of Law, where he was a member of the Board of Editors of the Indiana Law Journal and elected to Order of the Coif, a scholastic honorary society. Notable among Tim’s many community projects was his service as the Clerk of the Works throughout the planning and construction of the Fort Wayne Theater of Performing Arts (now the Arts United Center), the only theater designed by internationally acclaimed architect, Louis Kahn.

 

DAVID R. SMELKO – Partner – In Memoriam

David R. (“Dave”) Smelko became a partner with the Firm in 1989.  Dave had a distinguished career and practiced primarily in the areas of commercial and consumer banking.  He also practiced extensively in the areas of real estate law and business transactions.

Dave advised lenders about structuring and documenting complex commercial lending transactions, including commercial real estate and asset based loans.  He also regularly advised commercial lenders in the areas of commercial loan workouts and the restructuring of commercial loan transactions.  Dave was counsel to lenders with respect to foreclosure, collection, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights issues.  He managed the Firm’s extensive residential mortgage foreclosure practice which continues to include national and regional mortgage lenders.  In addition, he counseled lending institutions about sales to investors of individual commercial loans and commercial loan portfolios.

Dave also advised consumer banking clients on documentation and compliance issues involving the Federal Truth in Lending Act; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well as other consumer laws and regulations. As counsel to several real estate developers, Dave provided advice in the areas of real estate acquisitions and development, and with respect to zoning, planning and leasing matters. Dave regularly advised business and corporate clients on a wide variety of business and transactional issues.

Dave was also instrumental in mentoring and training young lawyers at the Firm and set an example of professionalism.  Dave was a significant contributor to the management and strategic direction of the Firm. Dave engendered deep loyalty and confidence in all who knew him and was an expert problem-solver, providing practical and expedient solutions to the toughest of problems and circumstances.