Longtime Ironton attorney honored for lifetime of service

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 27, 2011

COLUMBUS — Nearly 60 years after he took the post of Lawrence County Prosecutor, Harold Spears was honored by the Ohio State Bar Foundation for his lifetime of dedication to law.

Spears, 92, is the first attorney from Lawrence County to ever receive the Honorary Life Fellowship Award from the foundation.

The theme of this year’s banquet was superheroes and superhumans, and a cardboard cutout of Captain America stood tall with Spears’ face pasted on it.

Email newsletter signup

The award is given annually to an Ohio attorney whose career has been exemplified by dedication to the goals and values sought to be furthered by the Foundation, a lifetime of service to the public and to the community, and integrity, honor, courtesy and professionalism.

“I’m honored and a little bit humbled,” Spears said in August when he learned that he had been nominated and won.

Ironton attorney John Wolfe made the initial nomination and other people sent in their letters of support.

Spears is a Marshall University graduate and studied law at the Duke University School of Law. He is also a WWII Navy combat veteran.

Until recently, Spears practiced law privately in Ironton, a much different city than when he was first elected prosecutor in 1953.

He and newly elected sheriff, Carl Rose, were instrumental in ridding the city of its Mafia syndicates, burglary rings, gambling, prostitution and more.

Three of his high-profile murder cases became the subject of stories published in national detective magazines, such as “True Detective.”  Following two terms as prosecutor, he went on to be elected probate and juvenile court judge.

Over the years, Spears also served as chairman for the Volunteer Services and Rehabilitation Committee of the Ohio Mental Health Association and as president of the Lawrence County Bar Association.

Spears was accompanied at the banquet by his wife Wanda, three of their four children, and four of their nine grandchildren.

“That made it more exciting for us,” Wanda said. “It was wonderful for us to have the family together.”

Proud of her husband’s accomplishments, Wanda also said, “Lawrence County should be proud because we have someone who has excelled that much in the state.”

Humbled by the award, Spears gave a short acceptance speech.

“When at age 92, as I leave the playing field and head for the sidelines to join those who are a bit too old to participate, I hope and pray that this nation shall always be a nation of laws, and not of men, so equal justice is available to all, and the stars and stripes, the flag of the United States of America, which I have followed so long, shall always fly over this land of the free and home of the brave.”