The Donald O'Melia Local Service Award recognizes a lawyer who has made a significant public service contribution in his or her local community.
Note: In 2014 the Donald O'Melia Local Service Award was changed into a WLF scholarship and will no longer be given out as an award.
1993 – Gregory John Cook, Milwaukee
1994 – Richard E. Pegg, Madison
1995 – Deborah L. Skurulsky, Muskego
1996 – Maureen A. McGinnity, Milwaukee
1997 – Katherine L. Charlton, Milwaukee
1998 – Charles Herro, Oconomowoc
1999 – James Gokey, posthumously*
2000 – Edward F. Zappen, Wisconsin Rapids
2002 – John E. Shannon, Jr., Burnsville, MN
2003 – James J. Pondell
2004 – William J. Domina, Waukesha
2005 – Richard S. Gallagher, Milwaukee
2006 – Peter N. Flessas, Pewaukee
2008 – Jennifer O’Neill, Hudson
2009 – Martin J. Greenberg, Milwaukee
2010 – Donald Christl, Milwaukee
Who was Donald C. O'Melia?
Donald C. O’Melia
May 24, 1917 – Feb. 2, 1991
Donald Clark O'Melia was once described by a journalist as the voice of the people of northern Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Conservation Community. O'Melia was a Rhinelander lawyer who helped found Judicare, the public means for providing legal services to low-income residents of northern Wisconsin, and he served on its board for 25 years.
The Judicare Story
The State Bar of Wisconsin organized Wisconsin Judicare in 1966 as a program funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity. State Bar President Donald O'Melia and State Bar Executive Director Philip Habermann convinced officials in Washington to approve an experimental program that would pay private attorneys to provide free legal services to low-income persons. Habermann coined the word "Judicare" as a name for the program. Judicare’s office opened in Madison, on June 1, 1966, serving low-income people in 26 northern Wisconsin counties.
The State Bar of Wisconsin was the grantee for the program from 1966 to 1972 when the program was incorporated as Wisconsin Judicare Inc., a nonprofit corporation. Judicare continued with funding from the Office of Economic Opportunity until 1976 when Congress established the Legal Services Corporation, which provided Wisconsin Judicare's primary funding. Current information is available on the Judicare website.
O'Melia served on the Wisconsin Law Foundation board and as State Bar of Wisconsin president in 1965-66. He was a fellow in the American Bar Foundation and was active in the Wisconsin and Oneida Bar associations. O'Melia chaired and served as a member of several local, county and state Republican Party committees, as well as a delegate to the Republican National Foundation.
He served as district attorney for six years in Oneida County, a member of the Rhinelander Union High School and K-12 school boards for 23 years, and on several boards of directors of business and charitable organizations.
O'Melia was a senior partner in O'Melia, Schiek & McEldowney, Rhinelander, at the time of his death. His father, A.J. O'Melia, who served as State Bar president in 1942-43, opened the firm as a solo practitioner in 1911.