Don Marmaduke, one of Tonkon Torp's founding partners, died at home on October 17, 2019 surrounded by his family. With his passing, the firm mourns the loss of a friend, leader, mentor, and highly respected attorney who helped establish and nurture Tonkon Torp's commitment to excellence in client service, professionalism, integrity, and service to the community.
"Don was a one-of-kind person,” shared Darcy Norville, Managing Partner. “He was an excellent lawyer, embodying the highest degree of professionalism and integrity, and a wonderful human being. Don stood for so much that is at the heart of this firm and we are all richer for the legacy he left.”
A Portland native, Don attended Woodlawn Grade School and Jefferson High School. He graduated from Yale with a degree in Engineering in 1946, served in the U.S. Navy, and worked at an engineering firm for a few years before deciding law would be a more interesting career path. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1951 and returned to Portland to begin building his litigation practice at the firm which would become Stoel Rives.
In 1965, Don traveled to Mississippi to represent civil rights activists under hostile and difficult conditions. Don’s most prominent case during the civil rights era resulted in the desegregation of the Neshoba County Courthouse in Philadelphia, Mississippi, giving African Americans the ability to register to vote at the courthouse.
In 1974, Don joined Ken Stephens, Brian Booth, Moe Tonkon, Fred Torp, Morris Galen, and Terry Baker to form Tonkon Torp Galen Marmaduke and Booth. Don was a preeminent trial attorney who specialized in civil cases before state and federal courts. As the firm’s senior trial partner he ultimately tried more than 250 cases, many of which resulted in landmark rulings such as the medical antitrust case of Patrick v. Burget, in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld his jury verdict.
Don was an active embodiment of the firm’s commitment to pro bono work, dedicating hundreds of hours to civil rights cases through the Oregon chapter of the ACLU. In recognition of his unwavering service to justice, Tonkon Torp created and presented its inaugural Don H. Marmaduke Pro Bono Service Award at the firm’s annual retreat in May, 2019.
Don’s litigation practice was regularly recognized for excellence by Chambers & Partners, Best Lawyers, and Benchmark Litigation. He received many professional honors including:
- Campaign for Equal Justice, Henry H. Hewitt Award
- Oregon State Bar, Chief Justice Edwin J. Peterson Professionalism Award
- Oregon Bench/Bar Commission, Professionalism Award
- American Jewish Committee (Oregon), Judge Learned Hand Lifetime Achievement Award
- American Board of Trial Advocates (Oregon), Trial Lawyer of the Year Award
- ACLU, E.B. McNaughton Civil Liberties Award
- Multnomah Bar Association, Professionalism Award
Among the roles he served in support of the legal profession, Don was President of the Multnomah Bar Association, a delegate to the American Bar Association, and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers. He also worked with the Oregon ACLU, Metropolitan Public Defender, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, and the State Public Defender Committee.
As an active contributor to Oregon’s legal knowledge base, Don was Co-Editor in Chief of Oregon’s first 3-volume work on Civil Pleading and Practice, and taught Remedies as an adjunct instructor at Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College.
Equally active in his community, Don supported many organizations including the Downtown YMCA, Tri-County Community Council, United Way of Columbia-Willamette, Portland Center for the Visual Arts, and the Lake Oswego School Board.
In 2002, Don reflected on his choice to drop engineering for law. He shared, “I have enthusiastically embraced the practice of law. I've loved it, and that's the only reason I'm still doing it. I've enjoyed going to work every day, enjoyed learning what I learn out of every new case, I enjoy the people I work with, orchestrating the claims or the defenses, the presentation to the juries or the judges, and the whole thing is very exciting and satisfying to me.”
Read his obituary at OregonLive.