Gary Toohey says farewell to The Missouri Bar
After 36 years as editor of the Journal of The Missouri Bar and director of communications, Gary Toohey is ready for retirement. Toohey, one of the bar’s longest-serving employees, has gained a national reputation for his commitment to both quality and professionalism.
Toohey’s passion for writing and communications traces back to his days at The University of Missouri-Columbia, where he studied journalism and became a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national journalism honor society. After graduating in 1978, he honed his skills as a reporter, editor, and publisher at newspapers in Missouri, Tennessee, and Georgia.
In 1984, Toohey was hired by The Missouri Bar to work as a managing editor and assistant director of information under the direction of Wally Richter. Just two years later, in 1986, he assumed the role of editor of the Journal, where he has remained for the rest of his tenure. Over the course of his career, Toohey has worked closely with hundreds of lawyers and dozens of Missouri Bar presidents to produce timely, substantive content. He has overseen multiple Journal redesigns – all aimed at helping lawyers even better serve their clients.
But Toohey’s work doesn’t end with the Journal. As director of communications, he spearheads the Judicial Performance Review process, produces the bar’s Annual Report, and oversees the Board of Governors Appointments Committee. Toohey is also a gifted photographer and has helped coordinate and document numerous Missouri Bar events, including Annual Meeting, Spring and Fall Committee Meetings, and new lawyer enrollment ceremonies, among others.
Toohey’s commitment to excellence in communications extends beyond Missouri. He has been an active member of the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) since the beginning of his bar career in 1984. As part of NABE’s Communications Section, Toohey served as co-chair of the Publications Committee (1987-1988), co-chair of the Communications Audit Committee (1993-1995); member of the Executive Council (1988-1989 and 1995-2002); secretary-treasurer (1997-1999); chairperson-elect (1998-1999); and chairperson (1999-2000).
In 1999, he co-chaired a Communications Section Workshop in Chicago, and, in 2003, he chaired the Communications Section Workshop in St. Louis.
Many NABE members have fond memories of the 2003 meeting, including Joyce Hastings of the State Bar of Wisconsin, who presented Toohey with the E.A. “Wally” Richter Leadership Award that year. The award an annual recognition named after Toohey’s first supervisor at The Missouri Bar. During the event, Hastings helped arrange a special surprise: Richter himself was there to honor Toohey and his work. As part of the awards presentation, Hastings reflected on Toohey’s work ethic.
“Whether helping the section’s executive council make tough decisions by sharing his sound judgment, or being a friend or mentor, we have all benefited from his dependability, steady guidance, and unassuming confidence,” Hastings said. “He can ease a tense or difficult situation with his easy-going manner and wonderful sense of humor.”
In all his roles, Toohey is a consummate professional. Whether he is providing an update during a director’s meeting or sending a rejection email to an author, Toohey’s kind demeanor and respectful attitude are appreciated by all he encounters. His thoughtful leadership within his department and in a wide range of groups has inspired countless colleagues.
Toohey’s time at the bar comes to a close during a year unlike any other. Due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, he and other staff members have spent the majority of it working remotely. Even in these conditions, Toohey has produced a variety of valuable content for Missouri’s lawyers.
Toohey’s final day at The Missouri Bar is Dec. 31, 2020, but the mark he has left on the organization will continue to have an impact on staff and lawyers from around the nation. In light of his well-deserved retirement, Toohey has relocated to the Lake of the Ozarks, where he will relax near the water with his wife, Ann, and their beloved pup.
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