The Trusted Adviser
September 2017 | Volume 1 · Number 6


In Memoriam: James E. Molenaar, ATG Director, Past Chairman, Member, and Friend, February 1, 1934 - September 1, 2017

ATG recently said goodbye to a past ATG board member and past board chairman, James E. Molenaar of Dyer, Indiana. Jim joined ATG in 1976 and was an active ATG member and board member until his retirement.  

We recently used an excerpt from Jim’s 2003 annual report letter to shareholders in a tribute to another ATG great, Jim Elson. It’s appropriate to look back on his sentiment again now:

Forty years ago, [ATG] was a gleam in the eye of Stan Balbach, our founder, along with a few strong supporters. Several attorneys are almost legendary in their support of ATG. People like Dick Hart, John Satter, Jim Elson, and Ed Moehle. Forgive me for omitting so many others who should be included in this group. These were men of singular vision. They saw the erosion of the lawyer's role in real estate transactions in the 1960s and they knew it would ultimately harm consumers and lawyers. Consumers would be without guidance in the single biggest financial transaction in their lives; lawyers would lose a practice area and financial return. They knew they must work to preserve both.

Jim was passionate about ATG’s founding principles during the entirety of his membership, his stewardship on our board, and his leadership as our chairman. He was a man of great integrity, respected by all. 

Jim received a BA degree in 1959 and a JD degree in 1964, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1959-1961.Throughout his career, he was very active in the business and legal community in Lansing, Illinois, where he practiced law for 52 years. In addition to his service on ATG’s board, Jim also served on the board of ATG subsidiary ATG Trust Company. He was also a past president of both the South Suburban and Lansing Bar Associations, and was a member of the American and Illinois State Bar Associations.

ATG extends its deepest sympathy as well as heartfelt gratitude to Jim's wife of 57 years, Gwen Molenaar, their sons and daughters-in-law, James D. (Susy) Molenaar and Matt (Linnay) Molenaar, and five grandchildren Simon, Gabriella, Adam, Elliot, and Mia. In Jim's memory, the family has asked for donations to the Parkinson's Foundation, 200 S.E. 1st Street, Suite 800, Miami, FL 33131. Read Jim's obituary

Jim was chairman of the ATG Board of DIrectors in 2004, our 40th anniversary year. As part of our celebration, we donated to several housing-related charities and educational institutions, including a $15,000 donation to the University of Illinois College of Law, from which Jim graduated in 1964. Also from ATG are Peter J. Birnbaum (far left), President and CEO, and Jerry Gorman, Senior Vice President (far right). Accepting the check on behalf of the UI College of Law is then Dean Heidi Hurd.

Gwen and Jim at an ATG event in 1993.

ATG Board Officers in 1988: Jim Molenaar, Peter Birnbaum, Dan Marsh, Bill Austin, and Wally O'Brien.

After the October 2004 bust presentation for ATG founder, Stanley Balbach. From left: Richard Hart, Stan Balbach, Peter Birnbaum, and Jim Molenaar.

Gwen and Jim Molenaar at an ATG event in 2004.

[Last update: 9-20-17]

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