Fort Wayne's Fred Beckman remembered as ‘excellent attorney’

July 19, 2017

The Fort Wayne legal community is remembering Frederick A. Beckman as a kind attorney who had a sharp mind and a nickname for everyone.

Beckman, who practiced law for more than 50 years and co-founded Beckman Lawson LLP, died Sunday at St. Anne Home after an illness. He was 94.

A native of Fort Wayne, Beckman received his undergraduate degree in economics from St. Joseph College, interrupting his studies to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After he returned home, he studied at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and completed his J.D. in 1949.

Beckman joined solo practitioner Louie Dunten in 1954, Jack Lawson began practicing with them in 1961.  Beckman and Dunten first encountered Lawson in court as opposing counsel in a contract dispute. The young upstart Lawson won the case and a few days later got an invitation for lunch from Beckman.

From there, the two formed a friendship and professional relationship. They worked on many cases together over the years and established Beckman Lawson.

“He was an excellent lawyer and superb to work with,” Lawson said of his law partner. “I don’t know of any lawyer who said he disliked Fred. He was always smiling and chuckling.”

John Brandt, senior partner at Beckman Lawson, called Beckman a “trusted attorney” who had a deep knowledge of Fort Wayne history. Brandt remembered trips through the city with Beckman telling stories about the businesses that populated each intersection they passed.

“Fred did it the right way,” Brandt said. “He was someone you could trust that whatever he said he was going to do, he would do. He was not one to enhance or mislead.”

In addition to his work in private practice, focusing primarily on estate and trust planning, Beckman was active in the legal community and devoted much time to civic causes. He was a member of the Allen County Bar Association, taking a turn as president, and the Indiana State Bar Association, serving as the chair of the House of Delegates. He also served as a deputy prosecutor in Allen County.

Outside of the profession, Beckman served as a board member for many community organizations, including Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the former Allen County Society for Crippled Children and Adults which is now Turnstone.

Lawson recounted practicing with Beckman when they used Edison Dictation Machines and walked to the courthouse to file their cases. There was a lot of camaraderie among the attorneys and the court staff.

Adding to the fun was Beckman’s talent for nicknaming his colleagues and friends. As an example, Lawson recalled Beckman labeling a local judge as Walleye because he liked to fish in Lake Erie.
Beckman is survived by two sons, John and Tom, and his daughter, Maribeth Leininger, former executive director of the Allen County Bar Association. He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, and his daughter, Teresa.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at D.O. McComb & Sons – Covington Knolls Funeral Home, in Fort Wayne, and one hour prior to the 1:30 p.m. service Friday at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, also in Fort Wayne.


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