Kroger Gardis Regas name founder dies at 96

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William J. Regas, a founding name partner at one of Indianapolis’ oldest law firms, has died. He was 96.

Regas was a fixture in the Indianapolis office of Kroger Gardis & Regas LLP for more than 65 years, even well after he retired in the 1980s, said KGR senior counsel John J. Petr.

“I’ve only been here 39 years,” Petr quipped, “but Bill was always a mentor and just a good man with high morals, as were Mr. Kroger and Mr. Gardis,” who established the firm in 1937. Regas joined in 1945 after his discharge from U.S. Army service during World War II.

“The second generation has been fortunate to follow in their footsteps and stand on their shoulders,” Petr said.

Petr said Regas and John Gardis grew up together in Michigan City and remained close friends, so there was no question where Regas would practice when he left the service. “As a testament to what these three men established, we never considered changing the firm’s name,” Petr said. He said he believes the 70-year-old Kroger Gardis Regas name may be the longest continually used by an Indianapolis law firm.

Petr recalled Regas’ pride in his Greek heritage and his daily routine that continued until recent years, when declining health prevented him from routinely coming to the office.
“We kept an office here for him until he could no longer come in,” Petr said. Regas would arrive at about 5 in the morning, brew the first pot of coffee, read the paper, visit with other attorneys in the office, and sometimes work out until the mail came, Petr said.

“Bill loved to sort the mail,” he said, continuing a part of his job he’d had since the beginning. “That carried forward until about three years ago when he couldn’t come down anymore.” He said in latter years, the firm paid couriers to deliver mail to the office earlier to comport with Regas’ schedule.

“Bill was one-of-a-kind, a very sweet man, just a delight,” Petr said.

Regas is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jean (Barthelme) Regas, and two children. A funeral will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 3500 W. 106th St., Carmel. Regas’ obituary and an online guestbook is available here.

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