G. Lane Ware
1939 – 2014
With over 40 years experience in business and securities law, G. Lane Ware represented numerous clients with respect to corporate and governance issues and played a key role in corporate financings for a variety of clients. He had significant experience working with closely held businesses and intergenerational planning.
G. Lane Ware began his legal career after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Madison Law School in 1965 at what was then known as the Ruder & Staples law firm. George Ruder and Stanley Staples were well established corporate attorneys. A native of Green Bay, Lane had served as a placement director of law students and informed Stanley Staples, who was on a recruiting trip in Madison, that he was interested in practicing in Wausau. Thus, embarking on a career that marked decades of growth for the Ruder firm, Lane, and the Wausau community. Both Ruder and Staples worked closely with Lane as he honed his skills in corporate law and securities law. After practicing law nearly to the end of his life, George Ruder died on December 4, 1970, leaving a void in both the firm he had created and the community he loved.
The firm had barely recovered from the shock of losing its founder when Stanley Staples announced in 1972 that he was leaving. He went on to manage assets for the charitable foundations formed by the Alexander family. The house that Ruder had built appeared to have lost its foundations. What remained of Ruder & Staples, S.C. consisted of five attorneys, all of them in their twenties or early thirties. The firm’s remaining leaders were now forced to decide whether to part ways and affiliate with other established firms or to keep the Ruder law firm intact. This was a critical moment in the history of the firm.
It would take a tremendous amount of work and professional dedication to convince clients these young attorneys could continue to provide the quality of legal services they had come to expect in the era of George Ruder and Stan Staples. George Ruder’s associates concluded the risk was worth the potential gain. In 1972, they formed the law firm of Ruder, Ware, Michler & Forester, S.C. Their first order of business was the election of G. Lane Ware as President, a position he held until 1999. A new generation of builders had assumed the mantle of leadership, but their future was anything but certain. The new team of young attorneys worked at strengthening their position in the community by encouraging colleagues to attend legal seminars, assume active roles in professional organizations, and become active participants in Wausau community life. Through this, they succeeded in reinforcing the Ruder firm’s long-held image of corporate citizenship and social responsibility.
Ruder, Ware, Michler & Forester, S.C. continued to expand over the next decade and, by 1988, employed eighteen attorneys with a variety of specializations. The ever-changing business environment created businesses with opportunity of acquisitions, mergers, and consolidations. Trends with the banking industry mirrored the experience of the corporate world and mergers and acquisitions became commonplace in the 1970s and 1980s. By the strong leadership of Lane, the firm now known as Ruder, Ware & Michler actively represented clients in negotiations, mergers and financings that changed the character of the local financial community. To date Ruder Ware business attorneys have been involved in acquisitions, condemnation proceedings, contract negotiations, financings, and the resolution of environmental issues. Thus, as George Ruder did decades before, the modern Ruder law firm assisted the community builders of this generation in meeting the challenges of a changing environment. As early as 1974, when G. Lane Ware encouraged firm attorneys to consider the areas of law in which they most wanted to work, the firm adopted an internal organization plan based on the development of practice groups. As the firm envisioned it could serve its clients better as a full service law firm, practice groups of Litigation, Trusts & Estates, and Employment/Labor departments were formed, all with attorneys bringing with them a strong reputation in their line of expertise.
Throughout most of its history, attorneys from the Ruder law firm worked to enrich the area’s cultural life. When Wausau saw a need to coordinate efforts to bring touring performances to Wausau, the Performing Arts Foundation (PAF) was formed. The PAF was created to organize local operations and encourage entrepreneurial efforts in the arts. Central to the PAF’s early success was the election of G. Lane Ware as its first President. The service contributions of G. Lane Ware have been equally varied. A distinguished leader in the legal profession, Ware served the American Bar Association in a number of capacities. Not only had he gained the respect of his peers at the national level, but in 1989, his Wisconsin colleagues elected him to the position of State Bar President. He also held numerous leadership positions with the State Bar. Locally, Lane served as a director of the University Marathon County Center Foundation, president of the Wausau Area Chamber of Commerce, president of Central Wausau Progress, and a director of Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum as well as other nonprofit organizations as a director and officer. Lane served as board president and on several committees for the Wisconsin Law Foundation and The Fellows of Wisconsin Law Foundation.
He was also president of the Marathon County Bar Association, a director of Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, chairman of the Aspirus Health Foundation, president of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, chair of Leadership Wausau/Marathon County, chair of Marathon County Development Corporation, president of MURCO Foundation, council member of Wisconsin Humanities Council, and a board member for the Wisconsin Historical Foundation. His contributions are felt throughout the state as well as the Wausau community.
Lane was a distinguished and trusted attorney, a legend we were privileged to know. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Ruder Ware law firm, his legacy and contribution to the firm are unmatched and will be felt for many years to come. Ruder Ware will strive to continue the high degree of service it provided while under Lane’s leadership.
B.S., Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (1961)
J.D., University of Wisconsin – Madison (1965)
- American Bar Association – Member: Business Law Section, Senior Lawyers Division, Representative to Consortium on Legal Services and the Public (1990 – 2004); Pro Bono Committee, Co-Chair (1994 – 1998); National Conference of Bar Foundations
- State Bar of Wisconsin – President (1989 – 1990), Treasurer (1985 – 1987); Member: Business Law Section, Senior Lawyers Division; CLE Annual Securities Law Program (1975 – 1995); Business Law Committee, Member (1985 – 1996), Chair (1985 – 1988), Co-chair (1995 – 1996); Senior Lawyers Division, President (2003 – 2004); Leadership Development Committee
- Marathon County Bar Association – President (1987 – 1988)
Admitted to Practice
Wisconsin Supreme Court
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
Best Lawyers in America®, Corporate Law, and Commercial Litigation (1989 – 2013)
Leaders in the Law Award (2008)
Wisconsin Super Lawyers® (2008, 2007, 2006, 2005)
Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award (2004)
Wisconsin Outstanding Service Award, The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation (2010)
- American Judicature Society – (1991 – 2014)
- Wisconsin Law Foundation – President (1998 – 2000) and (2007 – 2008), Fellows member (2000 -2014 )
- The American Law Institute – (1991 – 2014)
- Wisconsin Law Alumni Association – Director (1993 – 2001), President (1997 – 1999)
- Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company – Director (1990 – 1999)
- American Bar Foundation – Fellow (1997 – 2014)
- Transportation Lawyers Association
- Central Wausau Progress – President (1992 – 1997)
- Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum – Director (1994 – 2014)
- Wisconsin Historical Foundation – Director (2012 – 2014)
- Murco Foundation, Inc. – Director (1979 – 2014), President
- Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce – President (1981 -1982)
- Aspirus Health Foundation, Inc. – Director (1986 – 2014), Vice Chairman (2009 – 2014)
- Wisconsin Humanities Council – (1998 – 2004)
- Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin – Director (1998 – 2005), President (2004), Chair Ruder Forum
- Leadership Marathon County, – Chair (1994 – 1997), annual presenter
- Marathon County Economic Development Corporation (McDEVCO) – President (1990 – 1992) and (2008 – 2010), key player
- Wausau Area Performing Arts Foundation – First President (1972 – 1976)
- United Way of Marathon County – Emerging Leaders
- Marathon County – SEATS Committee
Obituary,Wausau Daily Herald from June 14 to June 18, 2014
Lane was born in Green Bay, WI, in 1939 to Gordon and Irene Ware. The oldest of three children, he attended high school at Green Bay East and graduated from Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, WI. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. After a postgraduate year at the UW School of Commerce, he began his legal career in 1965 at Ruder & Staples in Wausau. He held the position of President of the Ruder Ware Law Firm for 27 years and retired from the practice at the end of 2013, after 48 years in the profession. He also served as Executive Vice President of Graebel Companies, Inc. His respect and affection for his friends and colleagues at both places were visible and genuine.
Lane was an enthusiastic and energetic professional, seeing initiative and leadership as intertwined. In the field of law, a list of the organizations he began or led as President included the Wisconsin State Bar, the Board of Governors, the Wisconsin Law Foundation, The Law Foundation Fellows, and the Wisconsin Law Alumni Association, among others. He was particularly proud of his work on the Business Law section of the American Bar Committee on Corporate Laws, which revised the Model Business Corporation Act in 1984, and of receiving the Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award.
In the community, among his many leadership roles, he founded or served as President of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, the Aspirus Health Foundation, Central Wausau Progress, the Marathon County Economic Development Council, the First Universalist Unitarian Church, the UW Marathon County Foundation Board of Directors, the Murco Advisory Board, the Wausau Area Chamber of Commerce, the Wausau Club, and the Wausau Area Performing Arts Foundation. In 2009, he and his wife Linda received the 2009 Governor’s Award in Support of the Arts Individual Leadership Award.
Lane and Linda, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County, were married on September 9, 1967, at the First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau. While living in the same home on North Hill Road for 41 years, they split their time between Wausau, Longboat Key, and their beloved summer home in Minocqua, where Lane enjoyed cooking for family and friends, puttering with old cars, and piloting cocktail cruises in his 1955 wooden Chris-Craft with a gin and tonic in hand. He was a lifelong Packers fan and season ticket holder, having snuck into the old City Stadium as a boy, and an avid reader and student of history and business as well as law. Lane and Linda worked often as a team not only in perpetual home improvement projects, but also in furthering education and the arts in Wausau and the state of Wisconsin. Most of all, Lane was an immensely proud father and grandfather, following closely the careers of his daughter Hilary, Associate General Counsel for Netflix in San Francisco, and his son Justin, a screenwriter in Los Angeles. He took immense pleasure in the adventures of his three grandchildren and always took time for his extended family.
He is survived by his wife Linda; children, Hilary and Justin (Valerie) Ware; grandchildren, Nicholas, Eva, and Theodore Kosanovich-Ware; brother, Steve (Maureen) Ware, sister, Kathy (Al) Krug, and brother-in-law, Lance (Susie) Kramer, as well as six nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held at the Grand Theater at ArtsBlock at 2:00 pm, Friday, June 20, 2014, with reception to follow in the Great Hall. Reverend Paul Beckel of First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau will preside.
Memorials may be directed to the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, 500 First Street, Suite 2600, Wausau, WI 54403; the First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau, 504 Grant St., Wausau, WI 54403; or the Performing Arts Foundation, 401 4th Street, Wausau, WI 54403.
Questions may be directed to Brainard Funeral Home, Wausau, at 715-845-5525.
“He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, (I, ii, 394-395)