You can find Fred Schmerberg’s fingerprints on some of Saline’s most important organizations. He served on the board of directors for the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce and Saline Area Social Service and helped incorporate both organizations. As a member and chair of the Saline planning commission, he helped shape many of the neighborhoods Salinians now call home.
Schmerberg, founder of Schmerberg Law, opened a law office in Saline in 1980. He’s been providing legal expertise to clients and serving the city and local organizations ever since.
Last week, the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce presented Schmerberg with the Bill Mangold Lifetime Achievement Award at a banquet held at Stonebridge Golf Club. The award is named for the late Bill Mangold, the colorful cartoonist who served the Saline Reporter and Saline Area Chamber of Commerce for many years.
Schmerberg moved to Saline with his family in 1964 and graduated from Saline High School in 1970. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of arts in 1974 and obtained his law degree from the University of Detroit in 1978. In 1979, he joined a law practice in Dexter and became a partner. The practice opened an office in Saline, which became Schmerberg’s primary responsibility. When the partnership dissolved, Schmerberg created his own practice.
From the beginning, the office has been a family affair. His wife, Nancy, worked in the office.
“You can’t have a lifetime of achievement without having a lifetime of support,” Schmerberg said. “Nancy was not my first legal assistant, but she was my best one.”
Schmerberg Law was a two-person operation until 1983 when their son, Luke, was born.
Since then, Schmerberg Law has been served by many capable assistants.
He’s been joined in his legal practice by his son, Luke, who has followed in his father’s footsteps. Fred served in Kiwanis, advised organizations like the chamber of commerce and served on the city’s planning commission. Luke is a member of Rotary, advises Saline Main Street, and chair’s the city’s environmental commission.
“Most parents have a dream that someday their kids will look at what they do and think, ‘That’s something I would really like.’ You can have that dream, but you better not tell your kids that, because your kids might rebel against you and do anything else, out of spite,” Schmerberg said. “But you can want it, as a parent. For me, that dream came true.”
His daughter, Claire, is a scientist in North Carolina.
“I am very proud of my children. They are both products of this community. They were born into this community and graduated from Saline High School. This community rubbed off them,” Schmerberg said.
Luke Schmerberg proudly introduced his father at last week’s banquet.
“To the extent that I was a good kid then (in school), or that I am a decent man now, it’s because I have had the incredible good fortune to have my dad as a person to look up to,” Schmerberg said. “Whenever I need to know what to, I call my dad. He will provide the right advice. That’s what we do in the legal profession - we provide the right advice.”
Schmerberg said his father doesn’t think of himself as special or outstanding.
“Of course, that’s part of why he is,” he said. “The City of Saline is richer for having Fred Schmerberg living and working here. I’m richer for having him as a father, as a boss, as a partner.”
Schmerberg Law has an office at 209 E. Michigan Ave. To reach Schmerberg Law phone 734-429-4936.