Merle F. Wilberding, a long-time attorney at Coolidge Wall and a graduate of St. Mary’s University of Minnesota Class of 1966, was recently awarded the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to his community and the nation.
In 1969, he received a JD from Notre Dame Law School, and subsequently received an MBA from the University of Dayton, an LL.M in Taxation from George Washington University, and an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. During the Vietnam War, he served as a U.S. Army JAG Captain and represented the Army in 800 appeals and argued 100 cases, including two of the biggest cases arising out of the Vietnam War – the Presidio Mutiny case and the Lt. William L. Calley “My Lai Massacre” case.
Merle joined Coolidge Wall in 1973, where he has had a distinguished legal career for the past forty years. In 2008, Merle worked with the family of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who was savagely murdered by her sexual assailant, Cpl. Cesar Laurean. Merle’s work on this case resulted in multiple appearances on national news programs, testifying before the U.S. Congress, and it began his advocacy for victims of sexual assault in the military.
In addition to Merle’s legal achievements, he is deeply involved in numerous community organizations. In 2012 he received the Ramey Award for Distinguished Community Service from the Ohio State Bar Foundation and in 2014 he was the Honoree for the Muse Machine’s production of “Seussical.” United States District Court Judge Walter Rice said, “Wilberding is not only a practitioner, he embodies the role of a community servant.” An active community leader and volunteer and a prolific writer, Wilberding has dedicated a lifetime of service for the benefit of his fellow man.
To view the St. Mary’s University video on Merle’s contributions, click here.