Jack A. Gellman of Niagara Falls, a prominent attorney and author, died Thursday at his winter residence in Fort Meyers, Fla., with his wife at his side. He was 88.
Born in Niagara Falls, he graduated with honors from Niagara Falls High School in 1935 and studied pre-law at Niagara University. He graduated from the University of Buffalo Law School in the top 10 of the Class of 1940 and was admitted to the New York State Bar Association that year.
Mr. Gellman served in the Army from 1941 to 1946, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel and receiving the Bronze Star for taking part in the invasion of Normandy.
After the war, he returned to Niagara Falls to practice law and became associated with John F. McNulty. Mr. Gellman specialized in civil trial practice and partnered with various attorneys during a career of more than 60 years. He was a former senior partner in the law firm of Gellman, Brydges & Schroff. In 1979, he was selected by the City of Niagara Falls as special counsel to defend the city against billions of dollars of Love Canal claims.
In 1964, he led a successful campaign to end discriminatory admission practices at Niagara Falls Country Club. He helped institute a new course at Niagara University in 1988 titled "Judaism and Christianity: Encounter to Dialogue."
He also initiated the "Jack and Florence Gellman Lecture Series" at Niagara University, which is still an annual event attracting renowned speakers on Judeo-Christian relations. In 2000, he published a book titled, "A Brighter Future After 2000 Years of Christian Churches vs. Judaism? Why Pope John Paul II Apologizes."
Mr. Gellman was a member of the board of the Niagara University Council; former commissioner to the Niagara Frontier State Parks; past president of the Niagara Falls Bar Association; past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post No. 54; past chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of the local B'nai B'rith; and past trustee and honorary trustee of Temple Beth Israel, where he served as president in 1965 and 1966 during the building of the new Temple.
Mr. Gellman was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Niagara University in 1994. His other honors include the Niagara Falls Israel Bond Committee's "Man of the Year"; WHLD radio station's "Tops Man of the Year"; and the Niagara Falls Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews' "Man of the Year."
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Florence Freiman of Niagara Falls; one son, Mark of Chicago; and two grandchildren.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday in Temple Beth Israel, 905 College Ave., Niagara Falls.
Burial will be in Beth Israel Cemetery, Lewiston.