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John J. Lombard Jr., lawyer and adviser to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, dies at 85

One of his clients said Mr. Lombard "had a quiet, intelligent way about him that went well beyond the black business briefcase he carried." He almost seemed like a member of the client's family.

John J. Lombard Jr. in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
John J. Lombard Jr. in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.Read moreCourtesy of the Lombard Family

John J. Lombard Jr., 85, of Upper Gwynedd and Ocean City, N.J., a prominent lawyer and longtime adviser for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, died Wednesday, Nov. 4, of complications from a stroke at the Atlantic City Medical Center.

Known as “Jack,” Mr. Lombard was born in West Oak Lane and graduated in 1952 from La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1956 from La Salle University and a J.D. degree in 1959 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

That same year, Mr. Lombard began his career at Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel LLP, where he became a partner in 1965 and where he remained until joining Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP as a partner in 1984. Both are in Philadelphia.

In 2000, he took a job as special senior counsel at McCarter & English LLP’s branch in Philadelphia. He retired in 2017.

Client Thomas Vasoli, retired president of Vasoli Electric Co., Inc., said that in his role as the Oreland company’s longtime counsel, Mr. Lombard could reduce the most complex legal issues to their essence and address them.

“Jack had a quiet, intelligent way about him that went well beyond the black business briefcase he carried," Vasoli said. "Jack understood us and took the kind of care for us that made us feel like he was truly a part of the family.”

One of Mr. Lombard’s passions was the well-being of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He worked closely on legal issues with past museum director Anne d’Harnoncourt along with curators, conservators, and administrators.

Gail Harrity, president of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said his contributions to the field of art law were exceptional. “But he also had a true passion for art, for the museum’s collection, and he nurtured many deep friendships with museum staff, which we will remember most,” Harrity said.

Another interest of Mr. Lombard’s was end-of-life care and ethics. In 1984, he coauthored the book, Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives. In 1994, it was published for a national audience.

Arthur L. Caplan, an ethicist on the faculty of New York University, said one of Mr. Lombard’s efforts was advising the Southern Jersey Ethics Alliance, a consortium of doctors working in health care systems. As a result of his involvement, the group was ahead of its time.

“Jack was a giant in health law and bioethics for the Philadelphia region and nationally," Caplan said. "He was the go-to lawyer for many of the hardest end-of-life cases. He brought wisdom, good humor, and charm to the toughest situations.”

A third interest of Mr. Lombard’s was the power of attorney, which allows a designated person to conduct the affairs of someone who can no longer do so. From 1992 to 2010, he served on a state commission that helped draft Pennsylvania laws involving the power of attorney, as well as estate laws.

A local civic volunteer, he served on the Whitpain Township Planning Commission from 1972 to 1980, and the Redevelopment Authority of Montgomery County, from 1980 to 1987. In the latter role, he aided the transition of Conshohocken from a tiny, unknown borough to a regional destination.

Mr. Lombard helped the Trainer Family and the Sisters of Mercy in 1996 to create the Cranaleith Spiritual Retreat Center in Philadelphia, and acted as its benefactor and legal adviser. The Trainers owned the property where the retreat is located.

He enjoyed painting and drawing, travel, reading, fishing, and gardening. He liked the Philly Pops and shows at the Walnut Street Theatre and the Academy of Music.

He was married twice, first to Barbara Mallon Lombard, and later to Jeanne Smith Lombard. Barbara died in 2008, Jeanne in 2016. He is survived by twin sons John James III and William Mallon Lombard and son James G. Lombard; daughters Laura Lombard Marino and Barbara Lombard Diebold; stepdaughters Kathleen Smith Leahey and Stephanie Smith Coffin; 18 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Services were private.

Memorial donations may be made to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pa. 19130; the Cranaleith Spiritual Center, 13475 Proctor Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19116; or La Salle College High School, 8605 W. Cheltenham Ave., Wyndmoor, Pa. 19038