James “Jim” Pry, II, JD ’70, and his wife, Janet, are determined to leave the world a little better than they found it. This philosophy inspires their altruism to higher education and their commitment to environmental stewardship.
Avid supporters of Jim’s alma maters, the Prys recently established a Dean’s Choice Endowed Law Scholarship for Ohio Northern University’s Pettit College of Law. The unrestricted scholarship gives the law dean the discretion to use the fund as appropriate to recruit and retain the best and brightest students to ONU Law.
The Prys’ gift was made as part of ONU’s Forward Together campaign, which seeks to raise $100 million for student scholarships, teaching and learning excellence, facilities, and the Northern Fund.
“I was brought up in a family that believed you help the people who helped you, and you make the world a better place,” said Jim, who credits his law school education for giving him a career he loves.
For more than 50 years, Jim has practiced law in Bucyrus, Ohio, where he and Janet have been pillars of the community. He is a partner in the law firm of Sears, Pry, Griebling & McBride, and his primary practice area is real estate. He also started two real estate title agencies in Bucyrus and Marion, Ohio. Janet, meanwhile, made a tremendous impact as the executive director of the Crawford County Community Foundation before retiring in 2016.
A first-generation college student, Jim graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1967. His dad then drove him to Ada for a personal interview with ONU’s law dean at the time, Eugene Hanson. Jim says Dean Hanson was instrumental in admitting him to law school. He received his juris doctorate in 1970.
Jim has supported Ohio Wesleyan for more than 50 years, serving as a trustee, university counsel and volunteer. At ONU, he has never failed to help when asked, from serving on the Law Alumni Board, to engaging in special projects, to financial support. The Prys are Life Members of the Henry Solomon Lehr Society, ONU’s top giving society.
“At ONU Law, I learned how to think and how to analyze problems. These skills are not only vital as a practicing attorney, but have helped me in all aspects of my life,” said Jim.
In addition to supporting higher education, the Prys are passionate conservationists. They steward 125 acres of woodland and 100 acres of cropland in Crawford County. Since 1975, they’ve planted more than 40,000 trees and created an approximately one-half mile riparian buffer zone on both sides of the Sandusky River in Crawford County. Due to their efforts, the water flowing through their land is some of the purest in the county. In 2007, Jim and Janet were named the Ohio Tree Farmers of the Year.
While they live in a small town and manage a farm that they purchased in 1975, the Prys have a global outlook, having traveled to 88 countries on seven continents.
Their worldwide travel has made Jim more cognizant of his life’s blessings, he said. He’s grateful he was born in Crestline, Ohio, to two wonderful parents who encouraged him to get an education that resulted in his successful career. His family blessings continued with a wonderful wife, two sons, two foster children, and six grandchildren.
“I am the luckiest person in the world,” he said. “I truly believe that. Giving back is just my way of giving thanks.”
Shannon Spencer, vice president for university advancement, said the Prys are visionary supporters. “The Prys have supported ONU every year since Jim graduated from ONU Law. We are grateful for their committed generosity, and for their most recent gift. The fund they established gives the law school flexibility in recruiting students who would excel at ONU Law. This type of scholarship is truly invaluable and will enable ONU Law to excel now and in the future.”