For Dublin resident Douglas Whaley, going into the law profession was a given.

What he wasn't looking for, however, was a career in teaching his profession.

"I didn't seek out teaching, it found me," he said.

Whaley, 74, recently was recognized by the president of the Ohio State Bar Association for 50 years of service to the profession.

His teaching career, which included faculty positions at Indiana University of Law in Indianapolis and Ohio State University, was marked by numerous awards.

Art Greenbaum, a law professor at OSU and a close friend of Whaley's through their shared careers at OSU, said his friend has a good understanding of how to motivate students to learn.

"He is a legendary teacher," Greenbaum said.

After graduating in 1968 from the University of Texas School of Law, Whaley started private practice in Chicago.

When he received a letter from the Indiana University School of Law inquiring about whether he'd be interested in a teaching position there, he initially thought it was a hoax, Whaley said.

The request was legitimate. The university was looking for a teacher to cover a course at the last minute, and Whaley's name had been recommended.

When Whaley started teaching at the end of 1969, he had only just been out of the classroom himself.

"I felt like such a fraud," he said.

Most of the students were older than he was, Whaley said, but he began taking on free cases in his spare time to gain experience.

Still, Whaley quickly found himself at home in the world of academics. His first year, he received an award for outstanding new professor. In the course of his career, he would receive nine awards total for his teaching.

"It was 'duck discovers water,' " he said.

In addition to teaching, Whaley also wrote several casebooks for commercial law.

Although he retired in 2004, he still teaches as an adjunct professor at OSU.

When Whaley was beginning his career at OSU and embarking on a move to Columbus, he also was embracing a newly found identity as a gay man -- although he said he was always aware of his sexual identity on some level.

He began attending Stonewall Columbus meetings, he said, and became elected to the organization's board.

Whaley participated in the first Columbus Pride Parade along with demonstrations, and talked on radio shows as an advocate of gay rights.

In the latter situation, he said he was able to channel his teaching experience, using the Socratic method to employ a question and answer format to make callers uncomfortable with their own bigoted beliefs.

In 2003, Whaley was given the Rhonda Rivera Human Rights Award for his work with Stonewall.

After retiring from teaching, Whaley was able to devote more time to his other passion -- theater.

It's an interest Whaley also shares with his partner, David Vargo, who in addition to his career in graphic design is also an actor.

Whaley and Vargo have acted in three shows together, and Whaley also directed him in a show.

For Whaley, an interest in theater was present at a young age.

He did quite a bit of acting, he said, at the minor professional level, and served as a drama counselor for a children's camp.

But theater is difficult to make a living at, he said, so he pursued law instead. Since retirement, Whaley has done 20 shows, either directing or acting in them, he said.

He said the excitement of performing well is appealing to him.

"It's just fun to engage the audience," he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah