I have been focusing on the first few years that we were in Forest City.
I was the first young lawyer to enter the Forest City landscape in many years. Frank Sinnard came to town when I did and we joined Elliott Cooper in forming the new law firm of Cooper, Sinnard and Beebe. Other attorneys in town then were Ashley Hill, Nels Branstad, Rodger Brown, Dudley Wieble and Harley Stipp.
With me being the exception (thankfully!), all have been gone for a number of years giving me the dubious title of senior/oldest lawyer in Forest City.
The other Winnebago County lawyers at that time were Dean Brackey, Dick Ramsey, Gene Sarno and Dennis Drugswall. They have all been gone for many years as well.
I sensed the relationships among the Forest City lawyers were a bit icy and in an effort to thaw some of that ice, we were able to reactivate the local bar association.
Several other young lawyers would join me in Forest City over the next five years or so and eventually congeniality would thrive again.
Judges serving the county at that time were John Stone, B.C. Sullivan, Larry Plummer and C.H. Wild.
Initially, I found them all to be intimidating but over time I learned they were not drill sergeants and they didn't dislike young lawyers but actually helped us along the path of "learning the ropes."
Vera Peterson and Wilma Belsheim, the Clerk of Court and Deputy Clerk of Court, respectively, also provided some practical pointers on how to survive in that environment.
Shortly after coming here, I ran against the incumbent County Attorney, Harley Stipp, in the Republican Primary. He won but I made a decent showing for the new guy in town. I had thought about a political career but that election convinced me otherwise, not because I lost but because I learned that, unlike Terry Branstad, going door to door and shaking hands was definitely not my thing.
My "adversary," Harley Stipp, and I would become good friends and enjoy many wonderful conversations over the years. I think I also established a pretty good rapport with the other attorneys in Forest City and throughout the county for that matter.
But my career would take another path when Elliott Cooper resigned as Winnebago Industries' General Counsel in April 1974, and the Winnebago Board of Directors elected me to that position which I would hold for a pretty unbelievable 38 years.
Oh my, I could not have begun to imagine the adventure I was about to begin.
Until next time.