PAYER, HARRY FRANKLIN (3 July 1875-12 Oct. 1952), lawyer, government official, and linguist, was born in Cleveland to Frantisek and Mary Kris Payer. He graduated from Western Reserve University in 1897 and from Cleveland Law School in 1899, and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1899. In 1900 he managed TOM L. JOHNSON's first mayoral campaign, from 1901-07 serving as assistant city solicitor under NEWTON D. BAKER. In 1907, he became the senior member of the law firm of Payer, Winch, Minshall, & Karch. Nicknamed "Demosthenes" because of his oratorical abilities, Payer became one of the area's top criminal lawyers and was renown for the huge awards he gained in personal-injury cases.

In June 1933, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Payer Assistant Secretary of State. In December, Payer was made special counsel of the Reconstruction Finance Corp, resigning in Apr. 1934 to return to private practice. Payer was a founder of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY BAR ASSOC. and its president from 1929-31. As chairman of the association's Committee on Judicial & Legal Reforms, he supported common pleas courts' psychiatric clinic, bail-bond reform, and the three-fourths jury laws. Payer spoke Czech, Polish, Italian, French, and German and read classical Greek and Latin. During WORLD WAR I, Payer, of CZECH background, served on the Czechoslovakian Relief Commission. Payer owned a home in CLEVELAND HTS. with a 10,000 book library, carved furniture, and oil paintings. Payer married Florence L. Graves on 24 June 1902 and had 2 children, Franklin Lee and Dorothea. He was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Harry F. Payer Papers, WRHS.

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