Eugene I. Selker, 91, of Beachwood, passed away Jan. 1, 2021.
A lifelong resident of Northeast Ohio, Eugene was born June 16, 1929, in Cleveland Heights to Samuel W. Selker and Jen Selker. He graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Juris Doctor degree from Case Western Reserve University.
Eugene had a storied law career, holding partnerships at Selker, Patchan & Einbund (1969-1971); Selker, Einbund, Rubinstein& Pavlik (1971-1976); and Sindell, Sindell, Einbund, Rubenstein & Pavlick (1976-1983). He was then principal at Selker, Furber & Spotts (1985-1991); attorney at law at Selker & Associates (1991-2018); and of counsel to Masnik, Raskin & Ryder (1991-2016). Eugene was also a law lecturer at Case Western Reserve University (1977-1989).
He taught a class at CWRU on engineering law that was one of the only courses offered through both the Law School and the College of Engineering. Every year, he and his wife of 68 years, Phyllis, would host a party for the classes students.
As a practicing trial attorney for over 50 years, his areas of expertise included, Complex litigation, land use and construction law and malpractice. He was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Ohio; United States District Court of Ohio, Northern District Eastern Division; United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals; United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit; United States Supreme Court. He appeared as Trial Counsel in litigation in state and federal courts in New York and Pennsylvania; and state courts of California.
Throughout his career, he earned a reputation from his peers and opponents as a fair, honorable and ethical attorney. Some of his deepest professional relationships began with both attorneys and plaintiffs who were on the opposite side and with whom he earned their respect and admiration.
A founding member of Brith Emeth, Eugene was the president of the board of directors of P.A.T.H. (1967-1974), the Plan of Action for Tomorrow’s Housing and the pre-cursor to the Cuyahoga Plan. He was also the president of his Cleveland Heights Kiwanis chapter (1965); board member of the Ohio Board of Examiners, Nursing Home Administrators (1974-1975); member of S.H.I.T. (Shaker Heights Indoor Theatre) for over 50 years; and co-chair of the Cleveland Bar Association, Real Estate Institutes (1986-1987) and lecturer (1983-1999).
As the president of the Cleveland Heights chapter of Kiwanis in 1965, he used his position to speak out against the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He developed this belief out of having conversations with wounded and recovering soldiers at the VA Hospital as a Kiwanis activity. He led to provide community service through visitations to the VA Hospital and helping wounded soldiers attend religious services.
With P.A.T.H., he was a founding member and became president of their board of trustees for many years. The organization grew out of a committee and report generated by the Greater Cleveland Associated Foundation to investigate housing problems and make recommendations. PATH was instrumental in leading litigation against five Cleveland suburbs for racial discrimination, becoming the foundation for the Cuyahoga Plan.
Eugene loved sports, and played college basketball and amateur volleyball. Music was another interest of Eugene’s. He was a good pianist, and was an avid listener of both classical and jazz. Among his other loves were travel, food, family, theatre and history, where he was an avid student of world history and politics. He became fascinated with the life and story of Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, the French author, inventor, musician and spy who also led the efforts at securing the funds to provide both the financing and arms to the American Colonists in the Revolutionary War. His fascination with Beaumarchais also combined with his love of travel and over several summers, Eugene and Phyllis spent time in Paris where he conducted research on Beaumarchais. One of his greatest dreams was to author a play on Beaumarchais, something that he began but never completed.
His love of people, food and the law combined in his frequent attendance at local restaurants, where he developed relationships with many of the owners and chefs, who in turn became his personal friends and quite often his clients.
Throughout his entire life, he developed deep and authentic relationships with people, of all ages, and ethnicities, regardless of their backgrounds and what they did. He deeply cared about people and was genuinely interested in them and their lives. This extended from children to teenagers, young adults and peers of his children and his members of his own generation. He had a wonderful memory for people’s names and faces, which served him well in developing these deep relationships.
Eugene will be remembered by his children, Mark Selker of San Diego, Greg (Lois) Selker of Beachwood and Wendy Robbins of Pepper Pike; grandchildren, Samuel, Allen, Max, Jared and Michaela; and great-grandson, Zachary. He was predeceased by his parents, Samuel and Jen; his wife of 68 years, Phyllis Selker; son-in-law, Jon Robbins; and siblings, Ruth Friedman, Fritzi Latin, Myron Selker and Evelyn Schulman.
A virtual memorial service was held Jan. 7.
Contributions in loving memory of Eugene can be made to Cleveland Council on World Affairs, 812 Huron Rd. E, No. 620, Cleveland, OH 44115; ACLU of Ohio, 4506 Chester Ave., Cleveland, OH 44103; or the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104.