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Longtime trial lawyer Townsend dies

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Indiana has lost a pioneer who has been a fixture in the personal injury legal community for more than six decades.

Earl C. Townsend Jr., who co-founded Indianapolis law firm Townsend & Townsend and went on to become one of the most recognized names in the legal community, has died. He was 92.

Along with his brother John, he helped establish the law firm Townsend & Townsend in downtown Indianapolis after graduating in 1940 from the University of Michigan Law School. He remained a senior partner since then, watching three generations of his family follow in his footsteps there.

Through the years, Townsend became a part of numerous legal organizations and received various distinguished fellow and barrister awards, including Indiana's Sagamore of the Wabash and a Champion of Justice Award in 1989 from the State Bar of Michigan.

While Townsend had an unequivocally illustrious legal career as a trial lawyer, other aspects of his life shone just as bright.

He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1981 for his play in high school and at DePauw University. He also had been a Big Ten basketball referee. Townsend's diverse list of accomplishments, according to his obituary, included his being the first television announcer for the Indianapolis 500, a composer, actor, and honorary chief of the Black River-Swan Creek Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

One of his life's passions led him to write a 740-page book entitled "Birdstones of the North American Indian" - which ties in with his having one of the largest and best collections of prehistoric stone Indian artifacts. The tribe recognized him for this effort, making him honorary chief in 1971 and giving the name Senee Pen Eshee Na Na, meaning "Birdstone Man."

Some of Townsend's other accomplishments include composing a waltz entitled "Moon of Halloween" and his work as a radio-television announcer on WIRE, WFBM, and WFBM-TV.

Visitation is 1 p.m. Thursday at Meridian Street United Methodist Church, 5500 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis. A private burial will follow at Crown Hill Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made to Arsenal Technical High School, DePauw University, or Meridian Street United Methodist Church. Condolences can also be made online at www.flannerbuchanan.com.
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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