The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


July 17, 2014

Gleason stepping away, but leaves legacy in law

JOHNSTOWN — A stroke has pushed Robert Davis Gleason from the courtroom, but his place in Cambria County legal history is secure.

Gleason – known by most as “Gunner” – told reporter Kathy Mellott for a story published Sunday that he’s “tired of the grind” and ready to “take it easy for a while.”

His will be rest well earned.

For more than five decades, Gleason has defended those accused of crimes, giving them their constitutional right to representation despite the allegations they faced.

Some of his clients were among the most notorious individuals to pass through the county courthouse.

But as friend and law partner Art McQuillan noted, Gleason’s mission was to make sure every person to go before a judge and jury got a fair shake.

“Bob viewed every case, whether big or small, as an important case,” McQuillan said, “and Bob instilled in all of us who worked alongside him that it was a privilege to assist people in their time of need.”

As Mellott detailed, Gleason is respected by people across the legal system, including those he opposed in court.

“It seemed like on every big case Bob Gleason would be on the other side,” Judge and former District Attorney Patrick Kiniry said. “We would fight tooth and nail in the courtroom, and afterward we could stop and have a beer.”

“I enjoyed all the years trying all the cases,” Gleason said. “We have in this county a good system where people respect each other. Politics doesn’t get involved.”

But politics has been and will continue to be a big part of Gleason’s life. His family is a powerhouse in statewide Republican politics, and he enjoys the battles leading up to each election day.

“He knows this county and he loves it,” said Marilyn Kleinstub, a paralegal with Gleason’s firm for 34 years.

And Gleason loves criminal law.

A stroke in February has slowed the man, but he was upbeat and optimistic during a recent courthouse stop.

He credited his wife, Linda, with supporting him in his recovery. “She’s really helped me come back,” he said.

And Gunner Gleason’s influence rolls on.

The son of longtime local attorney Andrew Gleason

is the proud father of Cambria’s public defender, Ryan Gleason.

And Gunner’s personality and dedication has rubbed off on those with whom he has interacted over 53 years of practicing law.

Judge Norman Krumenacker III recounted the moment he won a big case as a young attorney, and went back to his office to find a bottle of champagne from Gleason.

“He has a huge heart,” Kleinstub said. “He truly cares about people.”

Gleason will be missed at the Cambria County courthouse.

We wish him well with his health and in his retirement.

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