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Greenwood attorney Joe Van Valer dies

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The Indiana legal community has lost a former prosecutor and private attorney who, during his five decades of practice, established himself as a state and national expert in realty and development law.

Greenwood attorney Joe N. Van Valer, 75, died Sunday at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin. The 1963 Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis graduate was the founding and senior partner at Van Valer Law Firm, located in a restored Civil War-era building in downtown Greenwood. The firm specializes in land use, development, and construction law.

In private practice, Van Valer represented numerous developers who built new homes in Greenwood during the last few decades. His influence extended beyond his city and county. He helped draft laws creating the impact fees that developers pay to fund new parks and roads as well as a law that made the state one of the most consumer-friendly for implied home warranties that protect homebuyers from any construction defects discovered within 10 years. Van Valer also lobbied for federal legislation that allowed private insurance companies to insure home warranties.

All four of his children, including former Johnson Superior Judge Kim Van Valer, worked at the family firm as soon as each was old enough to hold a job and follow instructions. After leaving the bench in 2009, Kim returned and remains practicing at the firm.

After a stint in public office, Van Valer practiced at predecessor firms such as Van Valer & Williams. He served as the Johnson County prosecutor from 1967 to 1974, and it was that role that gave him an appearance in the late 1980s in the first episode of “America’s Most Wanted.”

City and police officials said Van Valer was the first prosecutor to train officers on how to handle evidence and testify in court. He also served as attorney for the Greenwood Community Schools and was actively involved in many community projects, carrying on the work of his parents, Ginger and Dick Van Valer. His mother was the first volunteer director of the city’s chamber of commerce while his father was a volunteer fire chief and newspaper editor.

Those remembering Van Valer say he was proud of his publications and the teaching he did through the years on topics such as farm estate planning, wealth management for closely held corporations, and the impact of interstate land sales. Van Valer received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Johnson County Builders Association, as well as many other civic and development and legal awards during his career. He was a member of the board of directors of the Home Warranty Corporation of Washington D.C. for more than five years, and he also served on the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis governing board since 1975.

A memorial calling is scheduled for 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Service and Crematory in Greenwood. Memorial contributions can be made to the Johnson County Humane Society or the Joe N. Van Valer Pre-Law Fund in the advancement office at Franklin College, where he spent his undergraduate years.
 

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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