Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 130, page(s) 733-735

OBITUARY SKETCH OF JONATHAN GROUT

Jonathan Grout of Fairfield died on April 9, 1942, of pneumonia following a minor operation. He was fifty years of age.

Descended from Colonel Jonathan Grout of Vermont, who was a member of the first United States Congress, he was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 17, 1892, the son of Edward Marshall and Ida Ludovike (Loeschigk) Grout. His father, a New York lawyer, served as president of the borough of Brooklyn and as comptroller of the city of New York.

Mr. Grout attended Prospect School in Brooklyn, Morristown School, Morristown, N. J., and Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Conn., and was graduated from Colgate University in 1913. He received his legal education in part at New York Law School, which he attended until 1915, and in part as a student in the law firm of Butcher, Tanner & Foster of New York, with which he was associated from 1913 to 1916.

Admitted to practice in New York in 1916, he came to Bridgeport in the fall of that year and was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1917. After four years with the firm of Marsh, Stoddard & Day, he joined William B. Boardman in forming the firm of Boardman & Grout, which at the time of Mr. Grout's death was known as Boardman, Grout & McCarthy. Richard S. Swain was a member from 1925 until he became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1939.

In his practice Mr. Grout devoted himself chiefly to corporate and business problems. He grasped quickly and analyzed thoroughly the facts, figures and principles involved, and usually produced an apt solution. He was a distinguished draftsman, and had the gift of stating most complicated arrangements in a document which, while accurate and inclusive, was expressed in the fewest words and was crystal clear. As a peacemaker, he was very effective. He excelled in the ability to determine the common ground advantageous to or for the best interest of both parties, to present it with tact, dignity and patience, and finally to persuade the parties to agree, thus avoiding litigation and more than once turning bitter antagonists into friends. He never lost his temper, never talked down to anyone, and was a good listener, quick to appreciate another's point of view. Though not primarily a trial lawyer, his high percentage of successes, many against opponents of longer and broader trial experience, was attained by painstaking analysis, careful preparation and a simple but forceful manner of presentation. Especially in cases involving complicated financial problems, his ability to analyze figures and then to express concisely and with entire clarity his conclusions in argument or brief was outstanding. He derived the utmost satisfaction from a job thoroughly done, regardless of his client's ability to pay for the time consumed.

Having at once the liking and the capacity for precise and accurate detail, it is not surprising that his chief avocation was in the field of architectural design. A characteristic modesty accounts for the fact that his skill in this field was not exhibited or even widely known. Some of his friends, however, have seen his designs of his own home, and the beautiful drawings of medieval castles on which he labored during many a long evening, and have realized that when Jonathan Grout became a lawyer the profession of architecture lost an accomplished craftsman.

Mr. Grout was judge of the Town Court of Fairfield from 1921 to 1925, and was town counsel from 1925 to 1931. He was a director of the Fairfield Trust Company and of numerous other local corporations. He was a member and past president of the Bridgeport Bar Association, and was a member of the Connecticut and American Bar Associations. For many years he served on the budget committee of the Bridgeport Community Chest and was its chairman at the time of his death.

Interested in all sports, Mr. Grout played excellent golf and tennis, frequently competed in tournaments and won his full share of the prizes. From 1927 to 1935 he spent much of his leisure in racing small sailing yachts. In addition to winning many a yacht club series, he won the Atlantic Class championship of Long Island Sound in 1935 with his sloop "Sirocco." He was a past president of the Brooklawn Country Club, a former commodore of the Black Rock Yacht Club, and a member of the University Club of Bridgeport and the Country Club of Fairfield. He was a communicant and vestryman of St. George's Episcopal Church, Bridgeport. In politics he was a Republican.

He is survived by his wife, Alice Bartram Pierce, whom he married on January 2, 1917, and by three sons, Jonathan DeWitt, a lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard, Phillipp DeForest, a graduate of Colgate University and an ensign in the Navy, and Thomas DeForest, a student at the Berkshire School. A sister, Katharine, also survives.

Mr. Grout will perhaps be longest remembered for his capacity for making and keeping friends. Rarely has there been a member of the Connecticut bar whose death has so sincerely affected so many people in so personal a way. His character and ability would have entitled him to profound respect, but the feeling which most men had for him went far deeper than that. It was a spontaneous tribute to a kindly gentleman, whose natural courtesy and friendliness were at once a distinction and a happiness.

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