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Edwin T. Bean Jr., retired Hodgson Russ partner who worked for children's welfare

Edwin T. Bean Jr.

Feb. 17, 1926 — May 5, 2018

Edwin T. Bean Jr., a retired partner and founder of the intellectual property practice at Hodgson Russ, was an experienced and informed attorney. But people he met were impressed by his kind, gentle nature, his devotion to his family and his lifelong work for the emotional, social and educational betterment of children.

Mr. Bean's volunteer work put him on the boards of the Gow School and Child and Family Services for years, at the genesis and growth of the Stanley G. Falk School, and in the forefront of protecting children with a 1964 state law that required medical professionals to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Mr. Bean, who was also a longtime adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo Law School, died Saturday in his Buffalo home after a brief illness. He was 92.

"He had a very understated style," said his son, Douglas C. Bean of Buffalo. On boards, he said, his father "was not the one who would jump in to be the first with the loudest voice, but after there had been discussion, he would thoughtfully weigh in. People who served on boards with him would say that he was always right on the point and would kind of pull things together. He would cut through the clutter."

When Douglas Bean met people who knew his father, he found they would frequently describe him as "a real gentleman."

"He was not a hard-charging, combative, litigious type," said Bean. "He was thoughtful and wise."

Mr. Bean was born in Washington, D.C., the oldest of four children. The family moved to East Aurora when he was a boy, and he graduated from East Aurora High School in 1943. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while enrolled in the U.S. Navy's V-12 program. He graduated from MIT in 1946 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a Navy commission.

Mr. Bean then moved to Washington to work as an examiner in the U.S. Patent Office, attending Georgetown Law School at night. He graduated from Georgetown in 1950 as class salutatorian.

After graduation, he returned to Buffalo and entered law practice with his father, then with the firm Christel, Bean and Linihan. He and Susan Roberts were introduced by a mutual friend and married in 1952.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Bean worked with inventor Wilson Greatbatch to patent the batteries of the original cardiac pacemaker, and the two maintained a long personal and professional relationship. Mr. Bean also had longstanding professional relationships with Zippo Manufacturing Co., Trico and Scott Aviation.

In 1989, Mr. Bean and his partner moved their practice to Hodgson Russ, where he founded the law firm's intellectual property practice.

"It was with great pride and pleasure that I entered into the agreement with Ed Bean for him to join the firm," James Wadsworth, partner and chairman emeritus of Hodgson Russ, said in a statement. "He proved himself to not only be an outstanding lawyer, but also a great practice group leader. In addition, he continued to make so many positive contributions to the community. We have been lucky to have him as part of the Hodgson Russ family."

Mr. Bean semiretired from Hodgson Russ a few years before retiring fully in 2012.

In 1964, as a volunteer with Children’s Aid Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children of Erie County, Mr. Bean helped write the bill that became a law mandating that medical professionals report suspected child abuse or neglect. At that time only 12 other states had similar laws.

He served as president of the Children’s Aid Society from 1968 to 1970 and helped oversee its merger with the Family Service Society of Buffalo to become Child and Family Services. He was an active volunteer and board member of Child and Family Services for more than 50 years, serving as board chairman and as a founder of the Stanley G. Falk School, which serves children with learning, social and emotional needs at campuses in Tonawanda, Kenmore and Cheektowaga. With his wife, Mr. Bean led a major capital campaign for the school.

In 1993, Child & Family Services presented Mr. Bean with the annual John N. Walsh Jr. Board Appreciation Award in recognition of his “commitment to strengthening family life in New York.”

Mr. Bean served on the board of the Gow School in South Wales from 1978 to 2002, and as board chair from 1991 to 1994.

In 2002, the Association of Fundraising Professionals named Mr. and Mrs. Bean National Philanthropy Day Distinguished Honorees. In 2008, Mr. Bean received the Red Jacket Community Service Award, the Buffalo Historical Society’s highest honor, for his lifelong advocacy for children and families.

Mr. Bean also loved teaching. He was an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo Law School for almost 25 years, starting in 1987.

Mr. Bean was a member of the Saturn Club and the Buffalo Yacht Club and was a past president of the Mid-Day Club, where he "was a fixture three or four times a week for 30-plus years," said his son. An avid tennis player into his 80s, Mr. Bean was a past president of the Buffalo Tennis and Squash Club. He also sailed for several years.

He was also a longtime member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, where he served as a deacon, elder and clerk of session. In that role he demonstrated a particular interest in fiscal prudence, earning the nickname "Chainsaw Ed."

Besides his son and wife of 65 years, Susan Roberts Bean, Mr. Bean is survived by another son, Philip O.; a daughter, Emelie Ventling; six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; and his brother Neil.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. June 18 in Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Ave.

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