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Richard L. Blatt

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Richard L. Blatt. In Memoriam 1940-2006. As solid as Plymouth Rock - a mentor and a true friend. My husband, Dick, represented everything that was good. He was a true gentleman, scholar, ethical businessman, loving family man and genuinely cared about others. He lived life honorably and with distinction. Dick was born in Oak Park, IL and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1962 where he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and served as president of his fraternity. Dick graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1965. Dick was a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants with his ancestor being Pilgrim William Bradford. He was a member of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Dick served as an officer in the United States Army, both in the United States and abroad from 1965 to 1970. Dick was selected by his peers as a 2005 and 2006 Illinois Super Lawyer. He was a respected colleague in the Chicago office of the Philadelphia-based law firm of Cozen O'Connor. And he was highly regarded by the Lloyds of London insurance market. Dick was the founder and former Chairman of Blatt, Hammesfahr and Eaton and was an integral part of the firm's successful merger into Cozen O'Connor in 2000. Dick's practice focused on representing insurers and reinsures in a variety of matters, including environmental, health hazard, toxic tort and product liability. He also had a busy Alternative Dispute Resolution and mediation practice. Dick authored numerous articles in professional and business publications, including ''Alternative Dispute Resolution in the United States'' published in Japan. He was co-author of the book, Punitive Damages: A State-by-State Guide to the Law and Practice (West Publishing Company, 1991), which was also published in a Japanese language edition, and a contributor to @Risk - Internet and E-Commerce Insurance and Reinsurance Legal Issues (Reactions Publishing Group Ltd., London, 2000 and 2002, R. Hammesfahr, Editor). People have written and said how Dick made a difference in their lives - how he mentored young men and women and helped in nurturing their careers. Actual words used to describe him have been true friend, true mentor, true gentleman, true professional, legal genius. Dick was the Junior Warden at St. Chrysostom's Episcopal Church in Chicago and was a national trustee of the Pi Kappa Alpha Educational Foundation. Our family and friends were shocked by Dick's untimely death. His open-heart surgery in June was successful, but shortly thereafter Dick was stricken with an internal system failure called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. He survived against odds, but a series of further infections and surgeries finally overtook his body. He died on July 25 surrounded by his family and our priest. The doctors said that Dick had fought so very hard to stay alive. Later this year, I hope plans will begin to start, or assist, a foundation dedicated to research of this syndrome in order to prevent other post-surgical deaths. Dick and I met in December 1982 at a holiday party. During our courtship, we enjoyed attending charitable benefits and dancing to the music of Stanley Paul. So much so that our favorite band leader played at our wedding at the Cycle and Cycle Club in 1987. Dick enjoyed people and spending time with them. When we first met, he lived in Lake Forest and was commuting into Chicago on a private rail car - ''very civilized way to travel'' he would say. He was a member of Room XIX of the Chicago Club. Dick had a great sense of humor, a dry wit, and the uncanny ability to diffuse situations with a few humorous words. Dick was a man of all seasons. In the fall, Dick loved walking and driving through the Michigan countryside and viewing the brilliant yellows and reds of nature. In the winter, Dick loved sledding and throwing snowballs with his young daughter and grandchildren. In the spring, Dick loved listening to the rain and seeing the flowers and trees blossom. In the summer, Dick loved leisurely strolls on warm nights, relaxing dinners in outdoor cafes, and watching his family play. Family was very important to Dick. We would say ''I love you'' to each other every day. Dick's last words shared with us were ''Amen, and God bless my family''. We knew we were loved very much by this wonderful husband, father and brother. Dick Blatt is survived by his wife, Carolyn, nee LeBlanc; and their daughter, Jennifer of Chicago; three adult children, Christopher and Susannah of Chicago and Katherine (Jay Culbertson) of Ohio and their families; a brother, Jim of Arkansas; in-laws, DeNux and Malvine LeBlanc of Glenview; a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Bryan and Karen LeBlanc and their family of Glenview; and many loved relatives. A Memorial Service will be held on Sept. 30, 2006 at 11 a.m. at St. Chrysostom's Episcopal Church, 1424 N. Dearborn, Chicago. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be given to St. Chrysostom's Church, the Richard L. Blatt Memorial Fund, 1424 North Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60610 or to Pi Kappa Alpha Educational Foundation in memory of Richard L. Blatt, 8347 West Range Cove, Memphis, TN 38125.
Published in Chicago Tribune on Sept. 28, 2006
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