November 2012 CBA REPORT
This section honors the lives of deceased members of the local bar. For more information about this service,
please contact Kathy Schmidt at (513) 699-1390 or
My father and colleague in
the law, Carl Morgenstern, died
February 19, 2012, at Beaumont
Hospital in Royal Oak, Michi-
gan, from complications related
to pneumonia. He was 90 and
his mind was sharp to the end.
Dad graduated from Harvard Law School in 1948.
He was president of the Butler County Bar Associa-
tion in 1979 and served as a member of the Ohio State
Bar Association’s Executive Committee during a very
public battle with former Ohio Supreme Court Chief
Justice Frank D. Celebrezze over power issues.
Dad never forgot the free opportunities he had
growing up as the son of immigrants in Cleveland: a
great public school education and tennis courts across
the street from his home, where he became an excellent
tennis player, a sport he loved all his life.
Most importantly, as a World War II Army vet-
eran who served in Europe, the GI Bill paid for his law
school education just decades after his parents, Henry
and Lilien Morgenstern, emigrated from Kapulia, Rus-
sia in the 1920s. With that excellent education, Dad
embarked on a life of giving back to the community.
He operated his own general practice law firm
in Hamilton, Ohio, for more than 50 years and was
known for taking controversial cases.
He hired the cerebral Roger S. Gates, whom he had
taught at University of Cincinnati College of Law, and
for 26 years they tackled many challenging cases. I was
privileged to work with them for 15 years. Roger now is
chief of the civil division in the Butler County Prosecu-
“No one could hope for a better friend, nor fear a
more formidable enemy,” said Catherine Stoker, presi-
dent of the West Chester Township Board of Trustees,
whose career Dad helped launch in 1993 as the first-
ever Democrat elected to office in West Chester. Stoker
credits Dad with saving taxpayers millions of dollars
taxpayer lawsuits he spearheaded.
Dad also was featured in the book “Hometown,”
by Peter Davis, an Academy Award winner who wrote
about the small town after immersing himself in
Hamilton for six years. The chapter featuring Dad was
The Village Voice
“Morgenstern framed his questions like the short
sharp jabs of a hungry welterweight,” wrote Davis,
who attended a much-publicized, sometimes salacious
hearing where Dad represented the school board. The
board had fired a popular high school choir teacher
who had been arrested for public indecency. “[I] t was
the law itself he loved, and the contest,” Davis wrote.
“…Morgenstern had dark, resolute eyes and his hair, at
fifty-seven, was still black. His mouth was firmly set,
though he smiled easily, a cheerful egoist whose sense
of humor was always playing tricks on his determi-
nation. Between his thin upper lip and his precise,
assertive nose was a wide space that lent him the
authoritative aspect of a Spanish grandee. At the Shie
hearings, Morgenstern hid his twinkle behind dark
glasses, resembling, for the duration, Mephistopheles
on a moral mission.”
Former Ohio Governor John Gilligan appointed
Dad as a trustee of Miami University in 1973. There he
captured headlines when he called for Miami to divest
itself of stock holdings in South Africa because of his
opposition to apartheid.
Dad was preceded in death by our mother, Marilyn,
his wife of 49 years, who died in a 1999 car accident.
Several years after our mother’s passing, Dad
reunited with Rose Werney of Farmington Hills,
Michigan, whom he had known in Cleveland when he
was a young man. Until the end of his life, they found
great happiness together.
Our parents created a warm and open home in
Hamilton where their many friends often gathered for
spirited political debates or to relax after tennis, always
accompanied by good food.
Reflecting his love of tennis, Dad served as presi-
dent of the Ohio Valley Tennis Association and as
grievance chair of the Western Tennis Association. In
the family’s Vista Cruiser station wagon, he frequently
took youngsters to out-of-town tennis tournaments.
Dad also was part of the “D” Street Gang in Hamilton,
a single court on “D” Street where members, for nomi-
nal dues, showed up for impromptu tennis play with
particular rules, such as, no warm-up allowed.
He also founded the high school mock trial pro-
gram in Hamilton where he commandeered the Butler
County Court House so the high school students could
argue their cases in real courtrooms before real judges.
Carl Morgenstern also leaves his son, attorney
Michael S. Morgenstern of Bethesda, Md. and four
As is said in our faith, “May his memory be for a
— Barbara L. Morgenstern, Esq., Cincinnati, Ohio