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Lionel Emery Bolin
October 16, 1927 - May 11, 2019
Lionel Emery Bolin, an attorney with careers in Chicago and New York City, died May 11, 2019. Born into a family of lawyers in Poughkeepsie NY, Lionel followed his father, grandfather, and aunt into the law profession during a lifetime that spanned the horse-drawn milk wagon to the cell phone. His aunt, Jane M. Bolin, was the nation’s first African-American woman judge and the first to graduate Yale Law School. Lionel was in the class of 1948 at Williams College, Williamstown, MA where his grandfather had been the first African-American graduate in 1889.
Lionel served in the army during the Korean War and was posted in Japan as an intelligence analyst. After the service his first job was in banking where he confronted the prevailing limits for a person of color. He turned to New York Law School, then headed first into private practice. He was interviewed and hired by Robert F. Kennedy, U. S. Attorney General, as a trial lawyer in the Anti-Trust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. After the assassination of the Kennedy brothers Lionel was Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New York and in 1969 joined the law department of National Broadcasting Company New York. In 1971 NBC offered him a job in their Chicago location. There he was Administrator of Legal Affairs and Director of Personnel and Labor Relations, retiring in 1989. He worked part time as a Hearing Officer for the City of Chicago for several years thereafter.
After years as Chicago residents, Lionel and his wife, Jean Rudd, moved to their weekend home in Beverly Shores, IN. Throughout his life Lionel was a frequent volunteer, serving as board chairman of Speedwell Services for Children in New York and board member of Chicago Area Project, ACLU of Chicago, Centers for New Horizons, Portes Cancer Prevention Center, St. Nicolas Theater, Lubeznik Center for the Arts and Save the Dunes. He mentored ex-offenders through the Safer Foundation in Chicago and young students through the Hours for Ours program in Michigan City, IN. He worked in many political campaigns throughout his life and served as Treasurer of one of Barack Obama’s campaigns.
Lionel leaves behind his wife of 48 years, Jean, his brother Gaius Bolin, III, nephew John Hobby, and cousin Yorke Mizelle. Contributions in his memory may be directed to Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. A memorial service is in planning for a later date.