Well-known defense attorney, former Fairfield mayor dies at 72

Former Fairfield Mayor Donald LeRoy, December 1981 to November 1983
Former Fairfield Mayor Donald LeRoy, December 1981 to November 1983

Credit: City of Fairfield

Credit: City of Fairfield

Former Fairfield Mayor Don LeRoy did a lot in his short tenure on City Council, including earning the city national notoriety in 1983 when he pushed council to move a meeting to watch the series finale of M*A*S*H.

LeRoy only served three years on City Council and was better known as a local attorney in Butler County, practicing law since the 1970s. He died from complications of heart disease on March 30 at St. Vincent’s in Indianapolis. He was 72.

Longtime friend Mike Sage, a retired Butler County Common Pleas judge, said “it would be fair to call (LeRoy) a low-profile guy.”

LeRoy was also “wasn’t much on formalities,” which is likely a reason he requested Fairfield City Council in 1983 to move a regular business meeting for the series finale of M*A*S*H, an iconic American television show about an Army field hospital during the Korean War that ran 11 seasons.

“I think he saw the formalness of City Council as something that needed to be loosened up, and I think that was his way of tweaking the system a little bit and saying, ‘Hey, let’s not take ourselves so seriously,’” said Sage.

That move brought national attention to the city, including from Entertainment Tonight.

While LeRoy, a defense attorney and public defender, was not big on formalities, Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller said helped Fairfield land Cincinnati Financial Corp. when it eventually relocated out of northern Hamilton County.

In the early 1980s, Cincinnati Financial begun to debate its relocation plans, and was to decide between Fairfield and northern Kentucky, Miller said.

“Don was mayor at the time and he was very instrumental in working with Cincinnati Financial and getting them to relocate to Fairfield,” said Miller, whose father, Jim Miller was a longtime executive with Cincinnati Financial and friend of LeRoy. “I think that speaks for itself.”

The company eventually relocated to Fairfield in 1986, after LeRoy left public life in order to spend more time with his family.

LeRoy grew up in the area. His father was a long-time educator in Fairfield. He married his second wife, Jo Ann Bateman, in December 2000 in Sage’s family room.

Miller said LeRoy was not only a “very humble” man, but also a “very sharp, smart guy.”

“He was a really good guy,” said Miller. “A true gentleman, and I really enjoyed our conversations.”

The family is planning a celebration of life on June 6 at Symmes Twp. Park, 116000 Lebanon Road. The time is to be determined.

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