Biography of Donald Fisher Lybarger

Donald Fisher Lybarger (1896-1970) was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on December 19, 1896. He was the son of Jesse James Lybarger and Margaret Shuler Lybarger. In 1903 the family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where Jesse Lybarger became the manager of a Singer Sewing Machine store. Donald and his sister, Mildred, attended the Friends School, a private institution in Wilmington.

Donald Lybarger entered Gettysburg College in 1915, but when the United States entered World War I, he enlisted in the Navy. At the end of the war Lybarger returned to Gettysburg College where he graduated summa cum laude in 1919. He entered Western Reserve University Law School the same year and received his L.L.B. in 1923. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1923, and until 1945 he was a member of the law firm of Horn, Weisell, McLaughlin and Lybarger.

In 1924, Lybarger married Cornelia Marjorie Hartshorne. Four children were born to the couple: Marjorie, Virginia Dowler, Lee Hartshorne, and Leonard Fisher. Mrs. Lybarger died on November 4, 1953. In 1956, Lybarger married Helen Baldwin Dean.

Donald Lybarger actively participated in numerous local and national organizations. He was a member of the Early Settlers Association, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Western Reserve Historical Society, the American Philatelic Society, a Masonic Lodge, the Woodland Center Neighborhood House, Theta Kappa Nu Franternity, and of several veterans' organizations. He resigned from the Sons of the American Revolution in 1962, however, in protest against what he believed were racist tendencies in the organization. In addition, Lybarger maintained a lifelong interest in stamp collecting and genealogy. He was the compiler of family histories of Baldwin, Belden, Crum, Dowler, Fisher, Grimwood, Hartshorne, Januszewski, Lybarger, Miller, and Shuler families. He also wrote articles on a variety of topics, including religion, Ohio history, poetry, the law, and stamp collecting.

In 1932, Lybarger was elected Cuyahoga County Recorder. During his tenure, he was mentioned as a possible successor to Michael F. O'Donnell, Cleveland postmaster, and was often recommended to fill vacancies on the county bench. He was never appointed, so in 1949 he ran fora position on the county bench and won. He was reelected in 1954, 1960, and 1966. In 1967, he was elected to succeed Arthur A. Day as chief justice. He remarked at this time that he did not think chief justices should run for reelection and he set an example by retiring in April 1969. As chief justice, he was concerned about delays in pretrial procedures and attempted to reduce the number of trial delays granted once a case had been put on the active list. He also set up a series of committees to find ways of reducing the backlog of civil cases, and worked to increase the number of judgeships.

Donald Lybarger died on November 6, 1970, at the age of 73. He was survived by his wife and his four children.

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