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Jerry Whitmer - 2007 Professionalism Award

Biography from 2007 Professionalism Award Dinner

Jerry was born in Wauseon, Ohio, the ninth of ten children born to Frank and Bessie Merle Whitmer. He attended the Wauseon High School where he played varsity sports and was president of Hi Y and his senior class.

Upon graduation from high school in 1953, he entered Kent State University’s Senior in Absentia Prelaw Program. The program provided for a student to enter law school at the conclusion of his or her junior year and receive an undergraduate degree at the conclusion of the first year of law school. Along the way, however, Jerry met his future wife Kathleen, or, as she is better known, Boo, also a student at Kent, and elected to remain at Kent to complete his undergraduate degree, and graduated from Kent State in 1957.

The following semester, jerry entered Case Western Reserve University School of Law. While at Case he served as a class proctor and the Law School’s Honor Chairman from 1959 to 1960.

Upon graduation from Case Western Reserve Law School in 1960, Jerry joined the firm of Johnson, Whitmer and Sayre, practicing in the area of bankruptcy and general insolvency law. He joined the firm of Roetzel, Hunsicker and Michaels in 1968, and in 1971, when that firm merged with Brouse, McDowell, May, Bierce and Wortman he became a partner in the new firm of Brouse McDowell. Jerry served many years on the Firm’s Executive Committee and Compensation Committee and ultimately served as Managing Partner from 1998 to 2004.

He has been an active and involved member of the Akron Bar Association, serving on numerous committees and its Board of Trustees. He became President in 1990, and during his leadership, the Akron Bar Association purchased the Akron Legal News. Jerry was a Charter Member of the Akron Bar Association Foundation and a member of its Board of Trustees from 1990 to 1991.

During his legal career, he was a member of the Scanlon Inns of Court from 1990 to 1991; a member of the Summit County Republican Party’s Executive Committee from 1991 to 1992; a member of Summa Health Systems Development Council in 1991; a member of the Board of Directors of United Way of Summit County from 1990 to 1994; a member of the Fairlawn Country Club Board of Directors from 1970 to 1973; and President of the Fairlawn Country Club from 1972 to 1973.

In 2000, Jerry was awarded the Akron Bar Association’s Presidential Award of Special Merit for his efforts in assisting the Akron Bar Association in the acquisition of the Akron Legal News. Also, in 2000, Jerry was awarded the Akron Bar Association Senior Lawyers Award for Outstanding Service to the Legal Profession and Community.

Old Trail School benefited from his quiet leadership skills when he served on the School’s Board of Trustees, first as Treasurer from 1993 to 1995, and then as President from 1995 to 1997. Jerry is currently a Trustee Emeriti of Old Trail School, and in 2000, he received the Schools’ Non-Alumni Award of Merit. He currently serves on the School’s Capital Fundraising Committee.

In recognition of Jerry’s leadership in promoting the betterment of society and his devotion to the highest standards and traditions of the law, he was admitted, in 1993, to the Case Western Reserve University School of Law’s prestigious Society of Benchers.

In 1994, Jerry was selected to represent the Eleventh District of the Ohio State Bar Association on its Board of Governors. While serving on the Board, he was a member of the Association’s Council of Delegates. Since 1994, Jerry has been a fellow of the Ohio State Bar Association Foundation.

Jerry became interested in golf in 1957 when his brothers and sisters gave him a set of golf clubs as a graduation gift. He became an avid golfer and joined Fairlawn Country Club where he met Golf Professional Frank Wharton. Frank taught Jerry the game of golf and together they have played in hundreds of tournaments together, and they are looking forward to many, many more of their joyful afternoons doing what they love best – playing golf!

Jerry represented several corporate clients with properties and businesses in the Florida Keys. During his frequent travels to the Keys, he found time to develop an interest in fishing, diving, and exploring the back waters of the Florida Everglades.

Jerry has many hobbies besides golf, including woodworking, gardening, and caring for the family’s Irish Setter, Peaches, and prior to his recent death, their cat KC.

In 1979, Jerry’s and Kathleen’s lives took a sudden turn when Kathleen was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis provided little hope and in early 1980 Kathleen entered an experimental protocol under the direction of Dr. Stephen Rosenberg at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Jerry found it necessary to balance his legal career with the need to make frequent trips to Bethesda, Maryland and to assist in his wife’s care. The treatments saved Kathleen’s life, but destroyed her heart. In 1999, she received a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. Jerry stood faithful and strong during the complicated day-to-day procedures. Today, both live productive, happy lives. Boo has painted dozens of oil paintings and written four books: Green Rubber Boots, A Joyful Journey to Wellness; For the Asking, A Joyful Journey to Peace; The Glory in a Story, A Joyful Journey to Making Memories; and Blue Boo and Her Colorful Friends. Jerry remains of counsel at Brouse McDowell. Their continued, sincere mission filled with love and respect for this wonderful community we all call home is evident.