John E. Multhauf, Partner

In memory of our Partner, Mentor and Friend
November 27, 1930 - March 28, 2012

By BRIAN HUBER, Freeman Staff (Reprinted with permission of the Waukesha Freeman)

WAUKESHA -- Attorney John Multhauf might have represented some of the area's highest-profile businesses, but he never forgot his family's farming roots, and thus was able to advocate for people ranging from farmers to titans of area industry. "His clientele went from the blue-collar worker to executives for companies that are traded on the stock exchange, so he had an ability to relate to all types of individuals on a personal level as well as a professional level and I think that is what made him so unique and highly regarded by clients, that he was able to relate to their problems both personally and professionally," said his law partner, James Hammes.

Multhauf, 81, died Wednesday, with members of his family at his side, his son Jay said Friday. Multhauf founded the Waukesha law firm in 1973 with Clayton Cramer. Hammes came on board as a law clerk in 1976, joined the firm after graduating from Marquette University in 1977, and became managing partner in 1989. Hammes said Multhauf did work with some of the biggest names in Waukesha commerce, from Waukesha State Bank and Jack Safro to Cousins Subs, Dorner Manufacturing and Payco, which later was traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Multhauf's son, Jay, said his father was just as comfortable working with county farmers who sought to develop their lands as the area grew in the 1960s and '70s, owing in part to his own grandfather's family farm in Rubicon. But beyond that, Multhauf was "a wonderful father," a self-described "benevolent dictator," his son said, who had a quick wit and loved traveling with his family. A highlight was a family golfing trip to Ireland, Jay Multhauf recalled.

Multhauf was very active in outdoor sports, playing tennis and sailing, but was a big fan of golf, and was part of a Nooners group that played Merrill Hills many a Saturday around midday. One of the great lessons his father imparted to him was "probably to be a good caddy and keep your eye on the ball," Jay Multhauf said.

Don Taylor, whose family owns Waukesha State Bank, said Multhauf's firm has been the bank's primary counsel for at least three decades. He said Multhauf was not one to seek publicity and always a "fine gentleman all the way around." "John just is one of the most honorable men I've ever known as well as being highly talented and very professional in his field," Taylor said. "Clayton also set a fine example but John took it to a next level beyond that." Carol Grosskopf, who was Multhauf's assistant for 26 years, remembered Multhauf as a generous boss who helped her family in more ways than one and was "just a gracious person."