The Tonkon Timeline


Founder Fred Torp Passes Away

2003 - Frederick Torp Obit

Frederick Torp, a leading corporate lawyer in Portland and co-founder of the Tonkon Torp law firm, died Monday, Sept. 15, 2003. He was 89.

Torp practiced law in Portland for more than 50 years. He represented some of the city’s best-known businesses, including Omark Industries, Stimson Lumber and Orbanco Financial Services, parent company of the former Oregon Bank.

He was born Sept. 25, 1913, in Allendale, N.J. He graduated from Columbia University and Columbia Law School and went to work for a New York City law firm in 1938.

With his family’s finances battered by the Great Depression, Torp worked his way through college and law school. He did so by playing the clarinet in dance bands. He played regularly with bands on cruise ships and told friends he had cruised to Bermuda more than two dozen times.

At Columbia, Torp met his first wife, Elise Arneson of Portland. They were married March 21, 1942.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after Pearl Harbor. He served in the Pacific, first as communications officer aboard the light cruiser USS Reno. The vessel sank after being torpedoed off the Philippine island of Samar. Torp and other crewmen spent 10 hours in the water before being rescued. He later served aboard the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that was in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender.

After the war. Torp joined his wife in Portland. In 1946. he went to work at the law firm later known as Stoel Rives. He worked there until 1974. At age 61, Torp joined eight other lawyers in the newly formed Tonkon Torp firm.

Torp told friends at the time that he never wanted to work for a firm with more than 15 lawyers. But Tonkon Torp grew to 72 lawyers and today is one of the largest firms in Portland. Its clients include Nike and Portland General Electric.

Torp’s first wife died in 1972. On Oct. 26. 1978, he married Nancy Morse-Moller.

He could be a stem taskmaster. Brian Booth. another longtime Tonkon Torp lawyer, remembered going into the office one Sunday to finish a project Torp expected done by Monday. As the office elevator opened. Booth saw Torp in the lobby. “Brian. I’ve been waiting for you,” he said, handing Booth a sheaf of legal documents.

“He could be a brusque. word-sparing man,” said Robert Huntington, a retired Stoel Rives attorney who worked with Torp for years. “But he also was a concerned, giving man.” Huntington recalled that Torp for years hosted a summer party for his fellow lawyers at his ranch near Sherwood.

He was an avid golfer and angler. He fished the McKenzie River with a longtime friend and former client, Louis Kennedy, co-founder of the Brady Hamilton Stevedoring Co., in an annual outing they dubbed “The Board Meeting.” The two were looking forward to going again this year, Kennedy said. But Torp’s failing health made it impossible.

“Fred was a real down-to-earth guy, real fair and a good friend,” Kennedy said

Torp was active in the community. He helped organize and served on the board of the Community Child Guidance Clinic, now known as the Morrison Center for Child and Family Services. He also served on the Oregon Board of Health, the Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center board of trustees, and the Lake Oswego School Board. He was director and president of the Oregon Historical Society.

Torp is survived by his wife, Nancy Morse Torp; daughter, Lisa T. O’Rourke of Vancouver; sons, Frederick “Fritz” of Santa Cruz. Calif., and Jonathan of Santa Monica, Calif.; stepdaughter, Austin Moller Bauch of Portland; stepson, Christian Moller of Mercer Island, Wash.; and six grandchildren.

This article (by Jeff Manning) is the property of Oregonian Publishing Co.