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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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