CHAMPAIGN — Well-known attorney Don H. Reuben, who died Feb. 3 at age 85, is remembered locally as a remarkable, brilliant man who became a legend in Illinois media law.
"He was an absolutely remarkable individual, maybe the most dynamic and colorful person that I've ever run across," recalls John Foreman, publisher of The News-Gazette.
During his legal career spanning more than six decades, Mr. Reuben was counsel to the Tribune Company, representing its newspaper and broadcast properties, Time Inc., the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and sports teams including the Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs and White Sox. He also counseled such prominent people as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Bill Veeck and George Halas and represented such governmental bodies as the Illinois Congressional Delegation and the Illinois House and Senate.
From 1998-2000, Mr. Reuben was a director, vice president and chairman of the executive committee of the board of Professional Impressions Media Group (PIM-G), a former parent company of The News-Gazette.
Dave Downey, president of The Downey Group and a News-Gazette board member, remembers going to California to interview Mr. Reuben for the PIM-G position, "and I decided he was one of the smartest men I ever met," he said.
Foreman said Mr. Reuben as a "one of a kind" man with a brilliant mind.
"He helped us through a difficult period in our history and was a real force in helping us getting some problems straightened out," he said.
Steve Helle, a University of Illinois journalism professor emeritus, called Mr. Reuben a "legend in Illinois media law."
"He single-handedly conceived of and convinced the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt the innocent construction rule," Helle said in an email. "That rule was pivotal in protecting both media and non-media defendants in almost 20 percent of all libel cases. No other state ever adopted the innocent construction rule, but that's because they didn't have Don Reuben."