Business & Professional
Litigation, municipal government counsel, criminal defense, jurisprudence, estates, and probate — if it exists as a legal specialty in a small community, chances are Stanley H. Matheny has done it. And, more than six decades after he began practicing law in Huntington County, he’s still doing it.
Law was an unlikely career choice for a farm lad from west-central Illinois, but Matheny has made the most of it. He was named a partner not long after joining the venerable Huntington firm of Lesh & Lesh, and earned a place as a leader in the legal community not just in Huntington County, but throughout Indiana.
Matheny was the second of three sons born into a farm family in Carthage, Ill. The Mathenys lived and worked in a number of rural communities during the latter years of the Great Depression, eventually settling in Lewistown, southwest of Peoria. Always a voracious reader and an excellent student, Matheny was valedictorian of his high school class. His academic record attracted the attention of a Lewistown businessman who was an alumnus of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He urged Matheny to apply, and when he did, he was awarded a full scholarship to the all-male, liberal arts institution.
While at Wabash, Matheny met Nancy Cain, then a student at nearby DePauw University, on a blind date. Two years later, they married while he was a student at Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington. Following his graduation and admission to the Indiana Bar in 1959, the Mathenys lived briefly in Shelbyville before being urged to relocate to Huntington by an IU Law associate. He joined Lesh & Lesh in 1959, became a full partner two years later, and is still of counsel to the firm, known today at Matheny, Hahn & Denman, LLP.
His early career was highlighted by a considerable amount of trial work and by terms as judge of Huntington City Court from 1967 to 1973, and as City Attorney in the administration of Mayor John Knop from 1967 through 1976. His involvement with the Indiana State Bar Association included a stint as chair of the organization’s probate section. His attention eventually settled on the realm of elder law, specializing in matters surrounding the aging population, including financial planning, power of attorney, and estate work, as well as preparations for long-term care.
Matheny has been active in the local and state bar associations, and was president of the Huntington County Bar Association for two terms. He has been part of numerous community organizations and activities, and active as a lay leader for more than 60 years at Trinity United Methodist Church.
During his career, Matheny has taken on legal foes like the Ku Klux Klan and navigated clients through complex litigation. But perhaps his greatest professional challenge came in March 2017, when a fire destroyed the law firm’s offices and many of its paper records. Since then, he and his partners and their staff have relocated and reconstituted their files while Matheny has maintained his role as the unofficial “dean” of Huntington County attorneys. His contributions to the well-being of his community cannot be overstated in a career that has preserved, improved, and enriched thousands of lives.