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Roscoe Bonisteel's Death Ends Half Century of Service

Roscoe Bonisteel's Death Ends Half Century of Service image Roscoe Bonisteel's Death Ends Half Century of Service image
Parent Issue
Day
26
Month
February
Year
1972
Copyright
Copyright Protected
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Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
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A "loyal íriend, a credit to his profesI sion and" a most worthy and exemplary I citizen," these are the words used to deI scribe prominent Ann Arborite Roscoe I O. Bonisteel Sr. who died yesterday at I age 83. But while words of praise come for I many men af ter their deaths, the above I words were spoken of Mr. Bonisteel at I the height of his career. His death yesI terday ended more than 50 years of serI vice to Ann Arbor, the University and I the state. A Canadian by birth, Mr. Bonisteel I moved with his family to Rochester, I N.Y., at age three. He received his pubI lic education in schools at Rochester, ËHagerstown, Md. and Harrisburg, Pa., Bwhere he graduated from high school. HAfter doing undergraduate work at DickBinson College, Carlisle, Pa., he carne to ■Ann Arbor as a law student at the ■University in 1909. Upon receiving his law degree in 1912, Mr. Bonisteel ' decided to start his law practice here. And except for a two-year tour of duty as a captain in the U.S. Air Service in 1918-19, he had lived here ever since. Using the leadership ability that made him president of his graduating class at the University, Mr. Bonisteel first became involved in public service in 1921 when he was named city attorney. He held that post until 1928. In 1928 his interest turned towards national affairs when he was elected a delégate to the Republican National Convention which placed former President Herbert Hoover's name on the ballot that year. Besides helping elect Hoover, Mr. Bonisteel was also a close friend of the past president. In 1932 Mr. Bonisteel served as a presidential elector from Michigan's Second Congressional District, and in 1944 he again was elected as a delégate at the Republican National Convention. Besides his political activities, Mr. Bonisteel also branched his energies in I several other directions. In 1934-35 he I was director of the Michigan Society for I Crippled Children. During 1935 he also I served as a trustee on the University's Alumni Fund. Along with these outside activities, Mr. Bonisteel was also gaining recognition I among his fellow lawyers. In 1936-37 he I was president of the State Bar of Michigan, which at that time was a voluntary 1 association of attorneys. He was also one I of the leaders of the efforts that culminatI ed in 1956 with the requirement that all I Michigan lawyers must belong to the Bar I Association and follow the standards it I sets. But Mr. Bonisteel gained his greatest I recognition as a regent for the UniversiI ty. In 1946 was appointed to that post I by former Gov. Harry F. Kelly, and in I 1952 he ran and was elected to an eight I year term as regent. In 1951 Regent Bonisteel spearheaded a drive that resulted in the purchase of 267 acres of land that expanded the I University into the North Campus área. I ■ - - - His work in this earned him the title of "Father of the North Campus." ITe ran for election to the Board of Regents in 1952 after turning down the urgings of state Republicans to run for the U.S. Senate. Between 1956-59 Mr. Bonisteel served as chairman of the Board of Regents Committee of the whole. During this sair= period he also was elected by the other regents to serve on the governoring board of Wayne State University whén that former city college became a state institution. University President Robben W. Fleming issued a statement today saying Mr Bonisteel's death "has written the final .chapter to a long and purposeful career. I The University of Michigan has benefitI ed greatly from the countless hours Mr. 1 Bonisteel devoted to working on behalf I of this institution of higher education . . I the University has lost a truly devoted I alumnus." Mr Bonisteel also earned himself the I title as a philanthropist. In 1957 he I donated most of the $50,000 needed to ■ build a planetarium at Dickinson College. The gift was to a memorial fund esiablish in honor of a Dickinson professor whom Mr. Bonisteel attended school W'ih at Dickinson. In 1970 Mr. Bonisteel turned over to the University's Clements Library a collection of more than 300 historical items involving Lewis Cass, one of Michigan's first major statemen. This collection was valued at $30,000 and took Bonisteel nearly 40 years to gather. Mr. Bonisteel also donated the wading pool at the YM-YWCA. Au a v i d historian, M r . Bonisteel served as a president and trustee for the Historical Society of Michigan, and vas the first chairman of the Ann Arbor Historical Commission. Along with these activities he also was involved in fraternal organizations. As a Masón Bonisteel attained the 33rd degree, the highest Masonic ranking. In 1934-35 he was an American Legión judge advocate for Michigan, and during that time served as district governor for the Rotary International. A fondness for music also brought him ■ to the position of chairman of the board ■ of trustees of the National Music Camp ■ at Interlochen College. He also served as ■ director of the University Musical I ty. I Survivors include: a son, Roscoe J. of I Ann Arbor; four daughters, Mrs. I liam C. (Jean) Knecht of Evanston, 111., Mrs. William J. (Betty) Johnson of East I Grand Rapids; Mrs. Willis A. (Francés) I Fisher of Brookside, N..J, and Mrs. I ry (Nancy) Calcutt of Traverse City; 23 I grandchildren and two I grandchildren. Services will be held at 2 p.m. at First I Presbyterian Church with the Rev. I eri E Sanders officiating. Entombment I will follow at Washtenong Memorial I Park and Mausoleum. The body is at Muehlig Funeral I el Persons may cali on the family from I 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the funeral I chapel today and tomorrow. The family has request memorial I tributions be sent to the Interlochen I ter for the Arts for a scholarship fund.