Attorney John DeVine dies at the age of 93

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Attorney John B. DeVine, a lifelong Ann Arbor resident who died May 27 at the age of 93, is being remembered for his extensive community service as well as his devotion to his family and faith.

Judy Van Amburg worked for DeVine's firm for nearly 20 years. She says DeVine walked in the front door every day in a cheerful mood, setting the tone for the entire office.

He was warm, friendly, and seemed to know the name of everyone who worked in the National Bank of Ann Arbor building where the firm was located on the third floor, she says.

"The State Bar did not require pro bono work from members in those times, but no one was ever turned away from DeVine & DeVine because they did not have the money to pay," she recalls.

Born in Ann Arbor on February 5, 1920, DeVine graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in history after being elected president of the Intrafraternity Council.

Beginning as an ensign in the US Navy in 1942, DeVine served in the Pacific until the spring of 1946. Along the way, he earned the rank of lieutenant.

Following World War II, he attended Harvard Law School and graduated with a J.D degree in 1948. He then began a long career, starting as a Washtenaw County assistant prosecutor until 1952 and then as a practicing attorney with DeVine and DeVine, a firm begun by his father in 1911.

The firm expanded to DeVine, DeVine, Kantor and Serr before being merged into Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone in 1984.

DeVine served on numerous boards and community organizations and was the first Chairman of the Board of the Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County and Chairman of the Board of the Washtenaw County Chapter of the American Red Cross, as well as the United Way.

In the mid-1960s, he was appointed chairman of the Ann Arbor City and Ann Arbor Public Schools Joint Recreation Commission.

He also chaired the Citizens for Kennedy of Michigan for his wife Marnee's first cousin, John F. Kennedy. Following the election, Marnee and John attended the inauguration and frequently visited Kennedy in the White House.

The DeVines founded the Marnee and John DeVine Foundation of Catholic Social Services, and co-chaired the McAuley Campaign for Elderly Care at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor .

An avid athlete and outdoorsman, DeVine loved the water and woods of northern Michigan, and passed a love of water sports and tennis down to his children and grandchildren.

Van Amburg says the passing of Devine is also the passing of an era.

"It was a time of gentlemen-lawyers and civility in the practice of law," she says.

DeVine practiced law for many years with his brother, Edmond, and their father, Frank.

"It was a very enjoyable way to make a living, raise a family, and give back to the community.," she says.

"The courtroom was a place where the rule of law was administered, and it was also a means of entertainment for the local farmers when they were able to spend a few hours in the city."

That's why Frank DeVine encouraged his sons to "speak up" when in court so as to be heard by the audience as well as the judge and jury, Van Amburg says.

She says many other lawyers of that era left their lown legacies, and notes the names Ager, Bonisteel, Breakey, Conlin, Garris, Hooper, Hathaway, Keusch, Reading, Rogers, and others.

All had a significant impact on the area, Van Amburg says.

John DeVine is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marnee Burke DeVine; daughters Margaret DeVine Mumby, Ann DeVine Klein, Kathleen DeVine, and Susan DeVine; son John DeVine; 13 grandchildren; and many extended family members.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Marnee and John DeVine Foundation of Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County, 4925 Packard Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108-1521.

Published: Thu, Jun 20, 2013