When attorney Richard “Dick” Chenoweth retired from Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs in 1996 with nearly 50 years of service, his work wasn’t done.
Chenoweth continued to serve numerous Akron area agencies, including the GAR Foundation, for another 14 years.
“He was smart, humble, kind,” said Christine Mayer, who heads the GAR Foundation. “He asked great questions. He always had the community’s interest at heart. All of his questions got back to that.”
Chenoweth, 93, died May 6 in Naples, Florida. His life will be celebrated with a memorial service Saturday morning.
Chenoweth attended Harvard University, completing his undergraduate work while on active duty in the Naval Reserve Officers Training program. After serving as an ensign in the Pacific during World War II, he earned his law degree from Western Reserve University, which is now Case Western Reserve.
He joined Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs in 1948, working there until his retirement Jan. 1, 1996.
Chenoweth mentored many young lawyers, including Rob Briggs and Mayer.
“He was phenomenal,” said Briggs, who has been with Buckingham since 1970. “I admired him greatly.”
Mayer fondly recalls her first encounter with Chenoweth when she was an associate at Buckingham while finishing her law degree. She was told to work in an office that had a larger and a smaller desk in it. She was seated at the larger desk when Chenoweth came in to what she didn’t realize was his office. He sat at the smaller desk even after she offered to work there.
“That speaks volumes to how grounded he was,” Mayer said. “He was very agreeable and kind and happy to work alongside anyone, including a young very clueless law associate.”
Briggs said Chenoweth started out with some “heavy-duty litigation,” including representing an individual against B.F. Goodrich in a dispute over a noncompetition agreement that was included in a recent book.
Chenoweth also did labor and business work before settling into a specialty in trusts and estates. He was named the trustee of many estates.
“He was fabulous about passing the baton to clients,” Briggs said. “He always put clients and the firm first — in that order.”
Chenoweth served on numerous boards for companies, schools and agencies. This included Child Guidance & Family Solutions, Akron Community Foundation, Legal Aid Society, Akron Children’s Hospital and the University of Akron Foundation.
After his retirement, Chenoweth continued to assist the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the GAR Foundation, where he was the executive director and then on the distribution committee until 2010.
Chenoweth received the Sir Thomas More award in 2007, an annual award given to an Akron attorney who exhibits concern for the community. It is presented by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and the Akron Bar Association.
“He is a great lawyer and a great human being,” Patrick Keating, a partner at Buckingham told the Beacon Journal at the time. “He has excellent technical abilities as a lawyer, but he’s never let that obscure what is important in life. Being associated with him has not only made me a better lawyer but a better person.”
In his free time, Chenoweth enjoyed and excelled at golf. He was a three-time Akron District Golf Association Match Play Champion and played exhibition golf with pros like Ben Hogan and Denny Shute. He was proud to shoot three holes-in-one during his lifetime.
After the death of Chenoweth’s first wife, Mary Lou Harwick Chenoweth, in 1969, he married Dorothy Christie Tomkinson Chenoweth, better known as Chris. They raised six children and lived first in Akron, then in Akron and Naples, and finally in just Naples.
Chris Chenoweth died in 2017.
The family continued to grow, now boasting 17 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.
Christine Yuhasz, one of Chenoweth’s daughters, has fond memories of rousing family game nights. She said her father was very competitive.
“He wasn’t a really good loser and he was an obnoxious winner,” said Yuhasz, the retired director of strategic engagement for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority.
Yuhasz said this even continued until last spring when she visited her father in Naples and they played bingo with other seniors in the area. She was the youngest player — and beat them all.
“He was beside himself,” she recalled, chuckling. “He said, ‘You can’t beat me at bingo!’ ”
Yuhasz said her father instilled in everyone in the family the importance of giving back to the community. One year at Christmas, she said, they donated the money they would have spent on gifts to local charities. She said she and her husband have continued this tradition by adopting a family each year during the holidays.
“We really learned the value of giving,” she said. “He taught that to so many people.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.