Login | March 08, 2021

Family, colleagues remember attorney Frank Quirk

Former Brouse McDowell attorney Frank E. Quirk passed away on Jan. 15 at the age of 88. Quirk is pictured here with his wife Patricia and their grandchildren William and Claire Sheeler. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Sheeler).

Legal News Reporter

Published: February 19, 2021

A loyal and zealous advocate for his clients, longtime Brouse McDowell attorney Frank E. Quirk made a name for himself as a high stakes litigator early in his career, playing a key role in helping to establish the law firm’s insurance recovery practice, said former managing partner Jeffrey Heintz.
“Frank was relentless in the representation of his clients,” said Heintz. “He took their causes to heart, instilling confidence in them without boasting. While he always respected the seriousness of their matters, he gave them hope that things would work out.  
“Later, as the director of the Miller Becker Center for Professional Responsibility, he became a household word in the field of legal ethics and professional responsibility,” said Heintz. “He was highly respected in the state and across the country by members of the bench and bar, serving many times as an expert witness in lawyer-discipline cases, disputes between lawyers and complaints by clients against their lawyers.”
On Jan. 15, 2021, Quirk passed away peacefully at the age of 88.
“My dad was a remarkable person,” said his daughter Elizabeth Sheeler. “Once he committed himself to something, he gave it his all and put his entire heart into it. That’s how he was with our family.
“As busy as he was with his practice, he was there for us. I was a competitive swimmer from the time I was a child through college, which my dad loved. He was also an athlete and we shared a desire to excel in that way. He made a point of attending as many of my swim meets as he could. I don’t know how he managed to show up as much as he did.”
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Nov. 24, 1932, he was the eldest of Frank T. and Eleanor Quirk’s four children. Quirk’s family moved to Akron when he was six years old.
Quirk began his undergraduate degree at The University of Akron, but left after his first semester to join the U.S. Air Force during the height of the Korean War.
After attending the Army Language School in Monterey, California and completing additional training at Brooks Field in San Antonio, Texas, Quirk was sent to Germany, where he used his skills as a Russian language specialist to intercept Russian military communications in a number of Eastern bloc countries as well as within Russia itself. He performed similar duties in Turkey at the major Russian missile launching location.
Quirk was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force when he was discharged in 1954.
He then obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration and his juris doctor from The Ohio State University.
He began his legal career in 1959 as a sole practitioner, but less than two years later he became an associate at the firm now known as Brouse McDowell.
Quirk met his wife Patricia in 1971.
“My parents were married for 47 years when my mom passed away in 2018,” said Sheeler. “They really loved each other and it was very hard on my dad.
“They both belonged to hiking groups and my mom’s hiking group donated a bench in her name at Sand Run Metro Park,” said Sheeler. “Up until this past year, my dad would hike to that bench with his dog Maggie.”
During his many years at Brouse McDowell, Quirk served in several leadership positions, including managing partner from 1989 through 1997, chair of the litigation practice group and the firm’s ethics counsel. In 2002, he became of counsel.
“Frank was one of the all-time greats,” said Heintz. “He was an amazing leader at our firm and a great friend and mentor to me. I miss him in many different ways.”
Paul Rose, a partner in the litigation and insurance recovery practice groups at Brouse McDowell also described Quirk as a mentor. They first met in 1981 when Rose was a summer associate at Brouse.
“Frank had more influence on my career than any other lawyer I’ve known,” said Rose. “He and I worked closely together when I was a young lawyer and I continued to work with him and try cases with him long into my career.
“Frank was active in the area of insurance recovery early on,” said Rose. “He was very well respected and extremely bright. Frank was the kind of person who could command a room without ever raising his voice. He taught me that an attorney doesn’t need to be flashy, theatrical or bellicose to be effective.”
In 2004 Quirk was appointed director of the Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility at The University of Akron School of Law.
About four years later, Quirk and Akron Law professor Jack Sahl became co-directors of the center.
“Frank and I collaborated on the preparation and presentation of many events and seminars at both the law school and the annual ethics program at the Ohio State Bar Association,” said Sahl, now Joseph G. Miller Professor of Law and director of the center. 
“I also recruited Frank to serve as a guest speaker for some of my professional responsibility classes at the law school,” said Sahl. “We became friends and would routinely discuss professional responsibility and sports, which was a great combination.
“Over the years, Frank served as a sounding board to me when I had questions about ethics. We both did expert testimony. I miss our contact, which continued even after he stepped down at the center. He was a great role model for our students and he was extremely committed to the law school. Above all, Frank had a big heart.”
Quirk was named an honorary alumnus of the law school in 2010.
In June 2015, Quirk left the university and began scaling down his expert witness work.
Quirk was active in the Akron and Ohio State bar associations. He was president of the Akron Bar Association and chaired several of its committees. He was also involved in establishing the Akron Bar Foundation in 1985, serving as president from 1990 to 1991.
In 2008, Quirk was appointed by then Chief Justice Thomas Moyer to the Supreme Court’s Task Force on the Ohio disciplinary process. He also served on the Ohio Bar’s Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee and chaired the subcommittee that investigated and recommended a change in Ohio’s Attorney-Client Privilege Statute, which was adopted by the state legislature in 2012.
Quirk received a number of accolades, including the Akron Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award in 2011, the Ohio Bar’s Eugene R. Weir Award for Ethics and Professionalism in 2013 and the prestigious St. Thomas More award in 2017.
Marc Merklin, immediate past managing partner at Brouse McDowell said Quirk is the one who encouraged him to become active in the Akron Bar Association.
“When I joined the firm, he was president of the Akron Bar Association,” said Merklin. “He introduced me to the bar association and the important role it played for lawyers. I later followed him and became bar president.
“At the firm, he was the person I would go to when I had an ethics question,” said Merklin. “What amazed me about Frank was that despite all his awards, he was a very humble guy.”
In addition to his legal activities, Quirk was president of the board of governors of the American Golf Classic in 1968. He was also president of the Akron City Club and a member of the Blossom Music Center Board of Overseers.
Quirk was the founding chair of Downtown Akron Partnership and received its first-ever Emeritus designation in 2017.
A die-hard OSU Buckeyes fan and an accomplished runner, Quirk participated in 12 marathons, including the New York City marathon, which his daughter said was his favorite. He was also an avid skier and enjoyed many trips to Aspen Mountain with his wife Pat, their friends and family.
“My dad skied into his 80s, with his grandchildren, who called him papa,” said Sheeler. “He was larger than life, but in a subtle commanding way. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was optimistic, even at the end.
“He used to tell me I had a great mind and could be a lawyer, if I weren’t so nice,” said Sheeler. “It’s funny because since he passed away so many of his friends and colleagues have told me how nice he was.
“It’s hard for me to imagine a world in which my dad is not a close fixture in my life,” said Sheeler. “It’s comforting for me to know that he lived to be 88 and had an amazing life in which he was admired by so many.”
A memorial will take place in the future once larger groups are allowed to gather.
Quirk is survived by his sons John and Michael, daughter Elizabeth (Tim) Sheeler, grandchildren Claire and William Sheeler and his sister Sharon Miller.
His wife Patricia, parents, brother Paul and sister Jane Ealy preceded him in death.