Obituary: Jack W. Plowman / Lawyer, legal mentor to many

Sept. 12, 1929 - Nov. 20, 2013

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

Jack Plowman was a lover of the law.

He served as editor of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review, was a member of the Order of the Coif, president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, taught as an adjunct professor at Duquesne Law School and served as editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Legal Journal.

He was a co-founder of Plowman & Spiegel, PC and in 2001 joined Bentz Law Firm, PC in Mt. Lebanon.

David J. Barton, a partner at the firm, said Mr. Plowman continued to work there almost daily until a few months ago.

Mr. Plowman of Mt. Lebanon died Nov. 20 at Family Hospice from complications from a fall.

He was 84.

His daughter Linda Plowman, who is also an attorney, said it was the collegiality and integrity her father shared with his peers that drove her to follow a similar career path.

"I wanted to be part of a profession like that," she said.

Ms. Plowman, of Point Breeze, called her father "very driven and driven to do the right thing."

Mr. Barton said Mr. Plowman set a great example for young attorneys to follow.

"He was a mentor to most of the lawyers he worked with," he said. "He was such a joy to work with because he had such a great grasp of the law in his area of specialization."

Mr. Plowman spent most of his career in construction and surety law.

Once, when Mr. Barton was faced with an issue he thought would doom a client he was representing, Mr. Plowman rattled off a decades-old case that established precedent for him to win.

As Mr. Barton read through the opinion, "you look down further, and it was argued by Jack W. Plowman before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1964."

Mr. Barton described his friend and colleague as "very level, analytical and thorough."

He also said Mr. Plowman was kind and fatherly. After asking his friend to review a lengthy brief for him, Mr. Plowman returned it with an A+ in the top corner.

Mr. Plowman was in the ROTC and later served in the Air Force stateside during the Korean War.

He was married to his wife, Barbara, for 61 years, after they met at Pitt on a blind date.

Mr. Plowman also had a long dedication to the Methodist church, for whom he served as chancellor of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference.

"It was part of his upbringing," Ms. Plowman said of her father. "I think he felt he had a talent to offer the church in legal affairs, and it made him feel like he was giving back."

Mr. Plowman loved his English Tudor house, which was "his pride and joy." He remodeled it, put on an addition, a porch, and a bridge and pond, which he excavated himself, his daughter said.

"He was always working with his hands when he wasn't working with his mind," Linda Plowman said.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Plowman is survived by another daughter, Judith Plowman.

Donations may be made to Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church, 3319 West Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15216. A memorial service will be held there at 2 p.m. Dec. 7, a Saturday. 

The family will receive guests at the church following the service.

Arrangements are being handled by Laughlin Memorial Chapel, Mt. Lebanon.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.


You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here