Attorney retires after 39 years in Ann Arbor

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Few know as much about tax law as Ralph Rumsey, partner says

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Ralph Rumsey and Bob Magill had been law partners for 39 years when health issues forced Rumsey to retire this summer.

"We all miss him," said Magill from his seventh floor office overlooking downtown Ann Arbor. "I go visit him at his home outside Ann Arbor. But it's not the same."

It was 1973 when Magill, Rumsey and Mike Meade founded the firm initially known as Meade, Magill and Rumsey. For the last 17 years, it's just been Magill and Rumsey.

The two met as young attorneys at Dickinson Wright in Detroit and learned they'd belonged to the same Zeta Psi fraternity as undergrads--Rumsey at the University of Michigan, and Magill at Williams College.

They went separate ways for a while before deciding to start their own firm in Ann Arbor. Magill attributes their success as partners to the fact that they had similar goals. And making a pile of money was not among them.

"The goal was to make a difference," he said.

Rumsey, 69, is known in the legal community for his contribution to charities, nonprofits, and tax exempt organizations. His clients hailed from miles away, Rumsey said, and they all were dedicated to betterment of their local environment, or their country.

"From missionaries who flew planes over the jungles of South America to international college fraternities, his was a broad clientele," said Magill. "He would help set them up, get them tax exempt status, help them keep tax-exempt status, and he would help set up charitable giving trusts to help finance them."

"When they needed to litigate something--zoning, property tax disputes, employment disputes - he would turn them over to me so I got to participate in the fun, too."

Their partnership worked well partly because profit-sharing was minimal, said Magill.

"So Ralph could go hang gliding without impacting my profit line," he said. "That made it a lot easier. He took on Zeta Psi as a client and gave them huge discounts, but that affected mainly his bottom line. I worked for Christian organizations and donated all or part of my time, and Ralph didn't object to that."

In addition to counseling and representing various nonprofit, tax-exempt and charitable organizations, Rumsey has served as chair of the Planned Giving Roundtable of Southeast Michigan and as president, officer or director of numerous other nonprofit organizations, both local and national in scope.

Magill devotes the bulk of his time to litigation, business and real estate law, and to his own nonprofit organization for the developmentally disabled, His Eye Is On The Sparrow.

Magill and Rumsey, P.C. attorneys Nuala Holowicki and Cevin Taylor are continuing Rumsey's work serving the people and organizations in the nonprofit world.

Published: Thu, Aug 9, 2012

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