June 6, 2014 – G. Lane Ware held many roles in his life. As news of his sudden passing travels the legal community, the common theme is he was a mentor and leader to many who went on to serve as State Bar leaders. Ware passed away on June 5. He was 75.
During his 40-year career, which focused on business and securities law at Ruder Ware in Wausau, Ware always found time for serving the profession and the community. His State Bar service includes a term as president and treasurer, and Senior Lawyers Division president.
Friends are stunned at Ware’s unexpected passing. Colleague Dean Dietrich said, “Everyone at Ruder Ware is devastated by this loss, but we are all thankful that Lane was a part of our lives. I personally worked with Lane on many State Bar activities and will always remember his leadership and wisdom in looking out for the profession and the goodness in lawyers.”
At the time of his death, he was a member of State Bar Annual Meeting and Conference Planning and Leadership Development committees, and a member of the Wisconsin Law Foundation (WLF) board of directors and Nominating Committee, and chair of the WLF Funds Development Committee.
His longtime leadership with the Wisconsin Law Foundation includes president, treasurer, chair of the Finance and Funds Development committees, and seats on Executive, Strategic Planning and Implementation, and Nominating committees. Ware also served on the Fellows Board of Trustees for many years as well as serving as chair and as a Nominating Committee member. Ware was a member of the inaugural Class of Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation in 1999.
Ware slowly began winding his practice down when he retired as president of Wausau-based Ruder Ware in 1999. At the time of his death, he was chair and of counsel for the firm.
Mentored Many Bar Leaders
Ware’s dedication to leading the way for developing State Bar leaders is best told by the comments received from these former State Bar presidents:
"Lane will long be remembered as a shining star of our profession. A fine lawyer; a gentleman who was always ready to offer help and sterling advice when I was bar president. He will be greatly missed." – Tom Basting, Madison.
“Lane was such a great leader and so willing to teach and help. He has been a mentor to me in my practice and in establishing my own firm as well as in my bar leadership.” – Michelle Behnke, Madison.
“Great, selfless, leader an apt description of Lane Ware the person, lawyer, professional. Lane leaves behind an enormous shadow – many will and should follow the legacies he created in his family, community, and lawyer lifetime. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of his friendship.” – Frank Gimbel, Milwaukee.
"Lane was such a vibrant, active guy who was always doing so much for the bar, the profession, and all of us. He was always willing to take the lead on projects and helped every one of us who came after him. He was the perfect former president who we all emulated and tried to live up to. We will miss him, his work, and his sense of humor. He helped us keep things in perspective." Gerry Mowris, Madison.
“Lane was a real gentleman and professional and a credit to our profession.” – Gerald O’Brien, Stevens Point
“Lane was one of my mentors and a person whose great personal warmth and capacity for growth was a real inspiration.” – Gary Sherman, Madison.
"Lane was a great personal friend to all of us – and to me in particular – and an example to all of what it really means to be a good and honest lawyer. He cannot be replaced, but he will always be remembered." – John Skilton, Madison.
“Lane was my mentor and inspiration.” – Steve Sorenson, Oshkosh.
"It is hard to describe the sadness and sense of loss that comes with losing Lane Ware. Gerry [O'Brien] and Lane and I were the 'Gang of Three' for the years of the voluntary bar. Along with John Skilton, Gerry, George, and I spent a great deal of time during those years working alonside Lane. He was obviously an exceptional lawyer – and a great human being. Fortunately, Lane's contributions to the State Bar of Wisconsin, the Law Foundation, and the practice of law will continue to influence our professional standards for years to come – and that is just one part of Lane's legacy." – John Walsh, Madison.
In 2004, the State Bar recognized Ware’s lifetime of exemplary service to the legal profession through his commitment to mentoring and supporting young lawyers. Ware was part of a team that created the “Building for Success: The Ultimate ‘How To’ Seminar for new and Not-So-New Lawyers,” which was offered throughout the state.
He also received the Wisconsin Law Foundation Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award in 2004.
A Large Hole in the Wausau Community
Another former State Bar President, Diane Diel, Milwaukee, said, “I knew Lane before I even became a lawyer. I grew up in Wausau, where he was always a respected civic leader and a friend to my father. We have lost a very good man and a very good lawyer and leader.”
Within hours of his passing, the Wausau Daily Herald posted this:
“Most recently, Ware was active in persuading the Medical College of Wisconsin to open a school in Wausau. Among other civic roles, he presided over the formation of the “Wausau Area Performing Arts Foundation and has held leadership positions with the Woodson Art Museum, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce and the Aspirus Health Foundation.
“The Wares [Lane and his wife, Linda] also worked together to help raise $13.1 million for the ArtsBlock project, which built the PAF's Great Hall facility, updated The Grand theater and created a block-long arts district in downtown Wausau.”
In 2010, Ware received the Wisconsin Outstanding Service Award from the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, in recognition of his decades of work with professional and civic organizations.
Early Professional Years
Upon graduation from U.W. Law School in 1965, Ware was recruited to George Ruder’s law firm. Ruder passed away five years later leaving a legacy of honesty, integrity, hard work, personal independence, and service to the community. The firm associates decided not to disband, but to take the risk and continue the firm. In 1972, they formed the law firm of Ruder, Ware, Michler & Forester S.C. and elected Ware as president, a position he held for 27 years.
George Ruder likely was one of G. Lane Ware’s mentors. He surely would be proud of his mentee.
A memorial service will be held at the Grand Theater, 401 N. Fourth St, Wausau, at 2 p.m., Friday, June 20.
Memorials may be directed to: Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, 500 First St., Ste. 2600, Wausau, 54403; First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau, 504 Grant St., Wausau, 54403; Performing Arts Foundation, 401 Fourth St. Wausau, 54403, or a charity of choice.
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