Ralph Hampton Lane, of Racine, Wisconsin, died in Racine on February 6, 2014, at the age of 79 years. He was the son of the late Thomas Clinton Lane and the late Georgia Marie Lane (née Hampton), of Elmhurst, Illinois and Boca Raton, Florida.
He served in the U.S. Army for two years, giving concerts throughout Europe as the conductor of the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra. Returning from service in 1961, he practiced law in Chicago for four years with the firm of Defrees and Fiske and then undertook graduate studies in music at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, receiving a Master of Music degree in 1966 and serving thereafter as an officer and instructor in the school, a horn player in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and the conductor of various church choirs and community orchestras.
Appointed in 1970 as Professor of Music and Dean of the Conservatory of Music at Lawrence University of Wisconsin, he served briefly in those capacities before being invited to the law department of S.C. Johnson & Son, in Racine, where he served as a trademark attorney for sixteen years. During much of that period, he was also the conductor of the West Suburban Symphony Orchestra (Hinsdale, Illinois) and of the Wheaton Summer Symphony, and also conducted the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra, the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra and guest conducted several others in Illinois and in Arlington, Virginia. He served also as Vice Chairman of the board of directors of the American Symphony Orchestra League, as well as a board member of the United States Trademark Association.
In Racine, with encouragement and generous support from the community, he and friends founded Opera Racine, which was active from 1977 through 1981. He conducted all of its performances.
Taking the early retirement option from S.C. Johnson & Son in 1987, he accepted the invitation of Foley & Lardner to establish a trademark practice in its home office in Milwaukee, where he served as head of that practice group for a decade. During that time, he was listed in several editions of The Best Lawyers in America. Retiring from Foley & Lardner in 1997, and soon tiring of retirement, he entered the Chicago firm of Pattishall, McAuliffe and, to avoid the daily commute to Chicago, in 1999 established his own trademark practice in Racine, which continued into 2013.
In 1999 he also established Philharmonia Racine, an orchestra giving training to young musicians, and in 2004 expanded it into the Milwaukee Summer Philharmonia, comprised mostly of professional musicians of greater Milwaukee, which he led until his death.
Mr. Lane continued throughout his life the study of history, most especially music history and European history. He and his family traveled frequently in Europe, as an extension of those studies.
He is survived by his wife, Ursula (née Retzlaff), whom he met during his military service in Europe; by his sons, David (Nancy), of Rochester, New York, and Thomas (Minerva), of San Francisco, California; and by grandchildren, Evan Lane and Kelsey Lane, both of Rochester, New York, and Spencer Lane, of San Francisco, California. He and Ursula celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on May 11th, 2013.
Funeral services will be held at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 4701 Erie St., on Monday, February 10, 2014, at noon, with Rev. Dustin M. Fecht officiating. Visitation will be held at the church on Monday from 11 a.m. until time of services at noon.
MARESH-MEREDITH & ACKLAM FUNERAL HOME
803 Main St., Racine (262) 634-7888