J. RUSSELL LABARGE, SR.
The second youngest of twelve children, Russell LaBarge was born in 1904 and raised on his parents’ 240 acre farm in Standish, Michigan. His parents were French Canadian immigrants. After high school, he and his younger brother, Leonard, moved to Detroit, worked at Ford Motor Company and attended the University of Detroit. Russell received his law degree from Detroit College of Law in 1934. The letter J “magically” appeared on his diploma and he was known thereafter as J. Russell LaBarge. His brother became a dentist.
His career began very modestly as a sole practitioner out of a gas station on 11 Mile Road in Roseville, Michigan. In 1938, he opened an office in the Roseville Theatre Building to accommodate his expanding law practice. He continued to practice there for the remainder of his life. That same year, he met and married Margaret Leveque.
In the late 1950’s, his law firm was known as LaBarge, Kramer, Hudnut and Cashen, one the largest in Macomb County at that time. J. Russell LaBarge represented the Village of Roseville and Roseville School District. For twelve years, he held the county elective office of Macomb County Circuit Court Commissioner. He served on the commission that drafted the City Charter for Roseville when it was incorporated in 1955. He was appointed to the Three Person Building Authority that oversaw the design and construction of the present Macomb County Circuit Court Building in Mt. Clemens, Michigan.
J. Russell LaBarge died suddenly in 1969, six months before his son, J. Russell LaBarge, Jr., the oldest of seven children, received his law degree and the joined the firm his father founded. Fortunately, having worked summers at his father’s firm, J. Russell LaBarge, Jr., “Russ”, learned first-hand, the importance of treating all people fairly and the true meaning of “your word is your bond.”
J. Russell LaBarge, Jr. and his son, Jay R. LaBarge, are now second and third generation members of Bellanca LaBarge, P.C.