Merle F. Wilberding, a 1962 graduate of St. Bernard High School in Breda, has earned the Award for Distinguished Community Service from the Ohio State Bar Foundation at its recent annual Awards Dinner in Columbus, Ohio.
Wilberding is a senior partner in the 35-member business law firm of Coolidge, Wall Co. LPA, in Dayton, Ohio.
The Award for Distinguished Community Service recognizes an Ohio attorney whose career has been exemplified by dedication to the goals and values sought to be furthered by the Foundation: a lifetime of service to the public and to the community, conducted with integrity, honor, courtesy and professionalism. This is one of the top two major awards given annually by the Foundation, an organization that represents the more than 25,000 lawyers in the State of Ohio. Over the past 50 years, only six other Dayton area attorneys have received one of these top two awards from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.
The award recognizes the contributions that Wilberding has made to the justice system and to the community.  Over the past five years he has worked with Mary Lauterbach, mother of murdered Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, for legislative and administrative changes to protect victims of sexual assault in the military.  He and Mary Lauterbach testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs.  Their efforts have helped to enact significant legislative changes in the law and in the administrative directives of the Department of Defense.
In the Dayton community, he is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Dayton School of Law and the Advisory Board of the Wright State University College of Liberal Arts. He serves on the Montgomery County Board of Library Resources and the Dayton Sister Cities Committee. He is an active member of Culture Works, United Way and is a founding trustee of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation.  Previously he had served on the boards of The Muse Machine, The Dayton Opera, and the 2003 Celebration of Flight and the Greater Dayton Foreign Trade Zone.
Wilberding has practiced law for more than 40 years.  After graduating from St. Bernard High School in Breda, he earned additional degrees from St. Mary’s University (Minnesota) (economics), the University of Notre Dame Law School, George Washington University (tax law), the University of Dayton (MBA), and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (library science and information).   
He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, Iowa and Ohio, as well as being admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the U.S. Tax Court and the U,S, Supreme Court.