BARTLETT, Robert Perry, Jr., a longtime resident of Oakwood, Ohio, is now a dead person, he is no more, he is deceased, he has expired and he has wrung down the curtain and gone to meet his maker. All this happened on Friday the 16th of April, 2021. His spirit was released from his worldly and worn out shell of a body and he is now exploring the wonders of the hereafter.
He was predeceased in death by his tonsils and adenoids in 1945, portions of his heart in a quadruple bypass in 1999, his right hip in 2009, more of his heart in two subsequent ablations, his original aortic and tricuspid heart values on December 12, 2012 and parts of numerous other internal organs in March, 2015. When we referred to him as a shell, we weren’t kidding.
He was born in Marietta, Ohio on February 27, 1938, to Robert Perry Bartlett and Caroline Devol Bartlett. His appearance no doubt was such a shock to his parents that his father immediately abandoned his job as a High School Principal, biology teacher, football and basketball coach and matriculated at Colgate Rochester Divinity School and became a Baptist minister. This, in turn, resulted in a long series of changes in his residence through the eastern United States from Ontario, New York, to Brattleboro, Vermont, to West Hartford, Connecticut and to Akron, Ohio.
He drifted through public schools in those locations, starting in kindergarten in Ontario, where he was soon suspended for two days because his teacher complained that he made too much noise when he ate his celery at lunch time. His educational journey moved him along to first grade in Brattleboro where he attended Chase Street School, an old “one room” schoolhouse. Fortunately, by the time he got there they no longer required the students to write their assignments using charcoal. After mastering the difficult subjects in first grade, he moved on to Green Street School, where he spent as much time in the principal’s office as he did in class. His public school education ended with him finally graduating from William H. Hall High School in West Hartford, Connecticut to the great amazement and relief of his parents. He was then shipped off to Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where his grandfather, father and uncle had studied. During his years there he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, the Air Force ROTC, numerous academic honor societies and groups. He also served as a defender on the Denison Lacrosse team, which in his junior year had the distinction of playing against an obscure, but much larger, school located in Columbus, Ohio by the name of THE Ohio State University, which they defeated in a game played on the field of the OSU Horseshoe Stadium. The attendance figure for the game was not widely reported by the media, but was estimated to have been slightly less than the 100,000 capacity of the stadium. Graduating in 1960, he headed off on an academic scholarship to law school at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia, only to find his future wife, Paige, who was attending nearby Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg. Deciding to marry, they moved to Columbus and he transferred to The Ohio State University School of Law, graduating in December, 1963.
His becoming an attorney came as somewhat of a surprise to his family, as most of them assumed that he would follow in the footsteps of many of his close relatives and go into the ministry. After all, his Grandfather was a longtime Baptist minister, serving churches in West Virginia and Marietta, Ohio. His father was a Baptist minister, with churches in upstate New York, Brattleboro, Vermont, Akron, Ohio and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. His uncle, Gene Bartlett, was also a Baptist minister, serving churches in New York, Chicago and the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, and thereafter became the President of Colgate Rochester Divinity School and President of the American Baptist Convention of Churches. His cousin, David Bartlett, was a Baptist minister, serving as senior minister to churches in Minnesota, Illinois and California, and was a prolific writer of religious books and articles, serving on the faculty at Yale Divinity School, Columbia Theological Seminary, the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and Union Theological Seminary. Bob Bartlett chose an entirely different pathway to follow, which he never regretted. Rather than helping his fellow man by ministering to them in their spiritual needs, he chose to help them in their worldly needs relating to their personal, legal, financial, employment and fairness in life issues and concerns.
He is survived by his longtime best friend and loving companion and soulmate, Barbara Sager. He is also survived by his ex-wife, Paige Bartlett, brother, John Bartlett (Barb), sister Judy Rowe (Al), daughters Stacey Knettler (Chris), Kelley Bartlett, Brooke Atanasoff (Mark), son Robert P. Bartlett, III (Vicky) and six grandchildren, Makana Knettler, Caelan Knettler, Max Atanasoff, Cia Atanasoff, Téa Bartlett, Clara Bartlett and numerous nieces and nephews.
After law school, he commenced his legal career by becoming a lowly associate at a small, but prestigious, Dayton law firm, Estabrook, Finn & McKee. In this seven-person firm, his primary assignment was to pick up the mail from the post office six days a week and deliver it to Mr. Estabrook at the firm’s daily 8:30 am morning meeting. His efforts were usually greeted by a stern castigation by Mr. Estabrook if he was more than two minutes late. After five years of servitude, he was summoned before the partners where miraculously—and to his great surprise—he was not fired, but promoted to partner in the firm. In 1984 the Estabrook firm was acquired by the Columbus-based firm, Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur. He was with the Porter, Wright firm from 1984 through 1987, serving as Senior Partner and Managing Partner of the Dayton Office and member of the Executive and Compensation Committees. In 1987 he moved his practice to the Dayton law firm of Coolidge, Wall, Womsley & Lombard, where he served as Senior Partner and Member of the Executive and Compensation Committees, and ultimately Chair of the Litigation Department. In August, 2004 he moved his practice to the Dayton Law Firm of Faruki Ireland & Cox, PLL, where he practiced until his retirement in 2016, after a 50 year career.
During his 50 years of law practice, he specialized in the areas of First Amendment, libel and slander defense, right of privacy, access to news, Freedom of Information Act and commercial and product liability defense litigation. He was Chief Counsel for the Dayton Daily News, WHIO TV-7, Springfield News-Sun, Middletown Journal, Hamilton Journal News and other Cox Media Group Ohio papers and radio stations. His legal efforts assisted the Dayton Daily News to win the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. He was awarded the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists’ Defense of The First Amendment Award representing WHIO TV-7. He was presented with the Ohio Bar Foundation, Community Service Award. He was elected as a Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers (being less than 1% of all lawyers in any state). He was regularly elected to Ohio Super Lawyers, and he maintained a LexisNexis Preeminent Peer Review Rating continuously from 1968 until his retirement. During his career he had numerous additional memberships and affiliations, including: Fellow, Ohio Bar Foundation; Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers Foundation; Life-Member Delegate, United States Federal Court Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference; Member, American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law, Business Litigation, Product Liability and Reinsurance Committees; Member, Trial, Tort & Insurance Practice Section, Ohio State Bar Association (Chair Media Law Committee 2007-2008); Member, Dayton Bar Association; Trustee of the Advisory Committee for the Herbert Eikenbary Trust for young lawyers; Member of the Media Law Resource Center; Federal Bar Examiner for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, 1978-2013; Member, the International Association of Defense Counsel; Member, the National Freedom of Information Coalition; Member, Defense Research Institute; Member, Bench Bar Media Forum; Phi Delta Phi Legal Honorary; Member, The Hundred Club of Dayton; former Adjunct Professor, University of Dayton School of Law; and court appointed Mentor to young attorneys under Ohio Supreme Court Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program.
He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the United States District Court of the Southern District of Ohio, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Among his other activities he was a frequent lecturer and panelist for seminars conducted by the Ohio State Bar Association Media Law Committee and Local Government Affairs Committee, as well as other professional organizations. He was also a member of the Board of Directors, Dayton Chapter, American Red Cross, as well as the Board of Directors Kids Voting USA, the Board of Directors of Alliance for Education, the Board of Directors of the Cox Arboretum, the Board of the Montgomery County Visiting Nurses Association, the Board of Trustees of the First Baptist Church of Dayton, the Sole Trustee of the Thomas Fordham Scholarship Loan Committee, as well as a longtime member of the Dayton Bicycle Club, the Dayton Lawyers Club and the Moraine Country Club.
He loved his family and desired the best for his children. He encouraged them to study in school and was delighted and so very proud of all of them as each found successful, meaningful and satisfying careers. He loved to be with his six grandchildren and to see them grow and mature into wonderful individuals. He took his family on many trips around the world and on interesting and exciting cruises through most of Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. He enjoyed golfing at Moraine Country Club and around the world in Scotland, England, South Africa, Australia and Asia. He loved a good story, particularly about his early years as a lawyer and the assortment of lawyers he practiced with, and against, in those years. With his customary humor he told many stories of the cases he won, and the cases he lost. We know his wish for all of you is to raise a glass, preferably Grey Goose or Ciroc vodka, smile, and keep his memory alive in laughter and stories.
In his own words “I have had a wonderful and amazing life, with a loving and caring family, excellent and loyal friends, the good fortune to have learned from some of the finest and brightest mentors and to have travelled most of the world, yet I have always realized that it is better and more satisfying to be home in Dayton.”
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Alzheimer's Association and the Cleveland Clinic.
Funeral services will be held at the First Baptist Church of Dayton at 111 W. Monument Ave Thursday, April 29 at 11:00am. A visitation will be held 4-6PM on Wednesday April 28 at Routsong Funeral Home at 2100 East Stroop Rd., Kettering. For those unable to attend in person, a live stream of the funeral services can be viewed through Routsong’s channel on www.youtube.com. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.routsong.com.