In Memoriam Edwin F. Uhl

JUNE 4, 1901

On the 4th day of June, 1901,  Mr. THOMAS J. O’BRIEN, of Grand Rapids, presented to the court resolutions adopted by the Kent county bar on the death of the Honorable EDWIN F. UHL. Chief Justice MONTGOMERY responded for the court, and directed that the resolutions be spread upon the journal and printed in the Reports. The resolutions are as follows:

Honorable EDWIN F. UHL, for a quarter of a century a prominent and active member of the bar of Kent county, died at his country home, “Waldheim,” near the city of Grand Rapids, on Friday, May 17, 1901. The bar association of Kent county, whose members were associated with Mr. UHL so long and so pleasantly in the labors of the profession and in the duties and responsibilities of a common citizenship, and who, from such association with him, learned to respect, admire, and love him, desire to place on record their brief memorial of his life, and testimonial to his character as a lawyer, a citizen, and an honorable man. Few men in the history of the bar of Kent county have so well illustrated the best traits of the legal profession, or reflected more honor upon his associates in that calling. It is fitting, therefore, that his departure from among us should be made a matter of record in the courts at whose bar he was for many years a most conspicuous and most honorable example.

EDWIN F. UHL was born at Rush, near Avon Springs, in the State of New York, August 14, 1841; came to Michigan with his parents in 1844, and was reared upon a farm about two miles east of the city of Ypsilanti. His education was acquired in the public schools of Ypsilanti and in the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, culminating in his graduation from the Ypsilanti union seminary in 1858, and with the degree of bachelor of arts, from the University, in 1862, and receiving his master’s degree one year later. He at once engaged in the study of the law in the office of Norris & Ninde, at Ypsilanti, and in January, 1864, was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the State. In 1866 he entered upon the active practice of his profession at Ypsilanti, as a member of the firm of Norris & Uhl, his partner being Honorable LYMAN D. NORRIS, afterwards a distinguished member of this bar, upon the removal of Mr. NORRIS to Grand Rapids, in 1871, as a member of the firm of Uhl & Crane, in association with ALBERT CRANE, Esq., now of the Kent county bar. In 1876 Mr. UHL himself removed to Grand Rapids, and renewed his partnership with Mr. NORRIS, which firm continued for 11 years; and in 1887 he again entered into partnership with Mr. CRANE. In this relation he continued in the active practice of the profession in Grand Rapids until 1893, when the firm was dissolved by Mr. UHL’S acceptance of the position of assistant secretary of state of the United States, which important post he continued to occupy until February, 1896, when he vacated it by accepting the more important and more highly honorable diplomatic post of ambassador plenipotentiary of the United States to the court of the German Empire, from which he returned in the summer of 1897, after the inauguration of a new administration in the United States. Returning to the city of Grand Rapids as his home, he resumed the practice of the law in this city as a member of the firm of Uhl, Hyde & Earle, and also with an office in Chicago, as a member of the firm of Uhl, Jones & Landis. He threw himself into the work of his profession with his accustomed zeal and earnestness, but soon found the demands of this double connection too enacting and too wearing upon a system which had already borne the strain of hard work during a third of a century of active and laborious professional life. He retired after a time from his Chicago connection, and two years ago from his Grand Rapids firm, being admonished that his physical system demanded comparative repose from the exacting and exhausting labors of the bar.

In 1881 he had been chosen president of the Grand Rapids National Bank, one of the large financial institutions of western Michigan, and continued to hold that position until he resigned it on removing to Washington to assume the post of assistant secretary of state of the United States. In 1890, and again in 1891, he had been elected mayor of the city of Grand Rapids; had been president of the Grand Rapids board of trade; was the organizer and first president of the Peninsular club; and in many ways was thoroughly identified with the industrial, commercial, and social interests of the city of his residence. On his return from his sojourn abroad he had been again placed at the head of the Grand Rapids National Bank, and this, with the management of his large personal business and property interests, employed his whole strength during the last two years of his life.

As early as 1899 Mr. UHL became aware of failing health, and the need of care in husbanding his vital resources. For nearly six months before his death he was practically retired from all active business; and after a painful and lingering illness, borne with fortitude and patience, he passed away, surrounded by those whom he loved, and who had ministered to him with all the tenderness and care which the utmost devotion and affection could suggest and inspire.

Such is the brief outline of that life work which we commemorate.

Mr. UHL came of sturdy American stock of German origin. He exemplified the virtues and the strength of the Anglo-Saxon and the Germanic races. As a lover of home and of family he was recognized as a model. He was always an earnest believer in the truths of the Christian religion, and was an active worker in the Protestant Episcopal church, with which he was affiliated and of which he was an honored official. As a lawyer he was earnest and strenuous in his cause, but high-minded and candid with the court, while he presented his case with all his force and ability before court and jury. As an advocate he was among the most able and eloquent at the Michigan bar. But all his work is done, and now only the fruits of his labor and the influence of his life remain; and we, his associates, would place on record this small tribute to his life and his character.

Therefore be it Resolved, that in the death of the Honorable EDWIN F. UHL, the Kent county bar association laments the loss of one of its most distinguished members, and one whom the people and the government of our country have delighted to honor.

Resolved, that we tender to the family and friends of Mr. UHL our most sincere sympathy in their great loss and grief,— a grief which should be mitigated by the memory of his long, active, and useful career, and a lifework nobly done.

Resolved, that this association requests the several courts of record of the city and county, the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan, and the courts of the United States for the Western district of Michigan, to receive and place in their permanent records this, our heartfelt tribute and memorial to our deceased brother.