The Honorable Richard L. Speer, Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Ohio, died Wednesday, April 3, 2013, in Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Toledo. Judge Speer was the sercond longest serving judge in the United States, including the U.S. Supreme Court, having been appointed to the bench in 1975 and overseeing 114,464 cases.
A longtime resident of Port Clinton, Judge Speer was a native of Norwalk. He was born Aug. 14, 1941, to Lyle and Ruth (Gredys) Speer.
On Nov. 9, 1968, he married Anita Gailitis.
Judge Speer was a graduate of Ohio Northern University with a bachelor of education degree from the College of Liberal Arts and a Juris Doctor degree from the College of Law. Before being named to his present position, he was a high school teacher in Castalia, an assistant attorney general for the State of Ohio, a lawyer in general practice with Reinheimer & Reinheimer, of Port Clinton, and Rosentreter, Zeitzheim, & Speer, of Oak Harbor. Judge Speer was also an instructor of real estate law at Terra Community College, Fremont, and in 1978, he received the Outstanding Real Estate Instructor Award.
Active and well known in Masonic circles, Judge Speer received his 33rd degree in 1985, which is the highest honor in Scottish Rite Masonry. He joined Masonry in Ada Lodge, F. & A.M., and later transferred his membership to Oliver H. Perry Lodge 341, F. & A.M., Port Clinton, where he served as worshipful master in 1972. He was a past high priest of the former Lake Erie Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, Port Clinton, and currently a member of Sandusky City Chapter, R.A.M; past illustrious master of the former Gibraltar Council, Royal & Select Masons, and currently a member of Sandusky City Council, R. & S.M. Judge Speer was a past commander of Erie Commandery 23, Knights Templar, Sandusky. He received the Knight of the York Cross of Honour distinction. joining the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Toledo, in 1969. Judge Speer served as Scottish Rite ambassador to his lodge for several years. He was also a past sovereign master of Portage Council, Allied Masonic Degrees, and a member of the Key to the Sea Council. Judge Speer was a member of Zenobia Shrine, Toledo; the North Central Forest of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon; Port Clinton Chapter 267 Order of the Eastern Star; and Singara Grotto, Sandusky. He was awarded the Order of the Purple Cross and the DeMolay Legion of Honour.
A voracious reader, Judge Speer had a keen interest in Civil War and World War II history, and genealogy. Known for his strong character and his acerbic, dry humor, Judge Speer possessed an amusing quirkiness that endeared him to his friends and family. He had a brilliant mind and was known for his “Speerisms”.
Although he was a man of many interests and passions, Judge Speer always placed his family first. He is survived by his wife of more than 44 years, Anita Speer; children, Gretchen (Frank) Sivinski, of Norwalk, and Richard (Leslie) Speer Jr., of Toledo; grandchildren, Nicholas, Steven, Jillian, Alexander, Zachary and Kyle; sisters, Leslie (Gale) Wiswell, of Castalia, and Deborah Speer, of Toledo; and brother, William (Kathy) Speer, of Akron.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Friends are invited to call from 2-7 p.m. Sunday, April 7, and 1-4 and 6-7 p.m. Monday, April 8, at Neidecker, LeVeck & Crosser Funeral Home, 1124 Fulton St., Port Clinton, where Commandery services will be at 4 p.m. Sunday. Private family services will be Tuesday, with interment following in the Masonic Garden of Meadow Green Memorial Park, Huron.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions to the Knights Templar Eye Foundation (knightstemplar.org/ktef) or the Knights Templar Holy Land Pilgrimage (kemerley.com/Freemasonry/KT/HLP/Holy_Land_Pilgrimage_INTRO.htm).
Condolences may be shared with Judge Speer’s family at crosserfuneralhome.com.