In Memoriam

Honoring alumni, faculty, staff, and friends who have recently passed.


Raphael L. Cooke JD ’50, April 8, 2011. Cooke farmed all of his life, practiced law, and also served in World War II. He is survived by his wife, JoAnn; sons Mark and Joe; daughters Mary, Meg, and Bridget; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

H.J. Belton Hamilton JD ’53, April 15, 2011, age 86, of natural causes. Hamilton was born in the Deep South in 1925, the grandson of a slave, yet he became part of a small group of influential black professionals in Portland in the 1950s and 1960s who broke racial barriers in medicine, law, politics, and journalism. Hamilton, who was the first African American to graduate from Stanford University in 1949, went on to become Oregon’s first black assistant state attorney general, the state’s first black federal administrative law judge, and board president of the Urban League of Portland, all while mentoring future lawyers and judges and serving as a leader in his church and various civic groups. His passionate belief in an open and integrated society, where people were free to make their own choices, and his fearlessness in being a social pioneer, extended famously to his personal life. In 1957, he married fellow University of Oregon student Midori Minamoto, whose Japanese American family was sent to an internment camp in Idaho during World War II. The couple bought a home in West Linn and raised two children to celebrate their dual heritage at a time when they were often the only students of color in their public school classrooms.

Jack H. Cairns JD ’54, August 8, 2011, age 87. A graduate of Central High School in Pueblo, Colorado, Cairns enjoyed brief careers in a movie theater and a steel mill before earning a degree in biochemistry from the University of Oregon in 1947. His study was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army stateside as a corpsman during World War II. Following college, Cairns worked as “a traveling pharmaceutical detail man.” He met his future wife, Mary Margaret Leutzinger, in Reno, Nevada, on New Years’ Eve in 1948. The couple moved to Portland in 1950, and Cairns entered Northwestern College of Law (which later merged with Lewis & Clark to become Lewis & Clark Law School) that fall while working full time. He practiced law in Portland from 1955 until 1967.

Cairns began teaching night classes at the law school in 1955 and became one of its trustees in 1958. He continued as a professor following the law school’s merger with Lewis & Clark College in 1965. Three years later, Cairns was named dean of the law school. He restarted his law practice in 1970 and continued in that pursuit until 1987, when he turned his focus to his property management business. Cairns was an adventuresome man who loved hunting and fishing with his buddies, often traveling to Mexico and Canada. He is survived by his wife of nearly 62 years, Margie; daughter Jan Robbins; son John; three grandsons; and two nephews and two nieces.

Garth Ford Steltenpohl JD ’54, February 3, 2011, age 83. Steltenpohl joined the U.S. Army immediately after high school and was a paratrooper in the 181st Airborne Division. While a law student, he met and married Doretha Mae Waters. They settled in the Portland area, where they started their family and he began his 34-year legal career. He retired in 1988, and they built their dream house in central Oregon. Steltenpohl loved being outdoors, and his favorite pastimes included camping, hunting, and fishing with his family and friends. During retirement, he and his wife enjoyed trips to various destinations around the world. He is survived by his wife, Doretha; son Charles; daughters Barbara Fahrenholz, Becky Larson, and Karla Thompson; 14 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

H. Ronald Bates BS ’56, June 4, 2011, age 76, of pancreatic cancer.

Bruce Whitney Towsley JD ’56, March 8, 2011, age 85. Towsley served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and earned his bachelor’s degree from Whitman College. He moved to Portland in the 1950s, lived in Corbett from 1970 to 1981, and resided in Troutdale from 1981 until his death. In 1991, he married Helen Redden. Towsley offered pro bono legal aid to seniors, volunteered with the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, and coached baseball and soccer. Towsley attended Cherry Park Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder. He was preceded in death by his wife in 2005. Survivors include son Doug Towsley; daughter Gail Towsley; stepsons Kevin Moore, Jim Redden, and Tom Redden; stepdaughters Susan Moore and Christy Redden; and three grandchildren.

Millard “Mac” Becker JD ’57, March 26, 2011, age 82. Born and raised in Tigard, Becker attended Oregon State University as an undergraduate. He served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954 before founding a successful law practice in Portland, which he ran for over 40 years. He had a passion for competitive trap shooting, camping, hunting, and fishing, and he was a skilled cook. Most important, he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, who loved his family above all else. His wife, Evelyn, preceded him in death in 2003. Survivors include his brother, Orlien Becker; children James Becker, Teresa Curdy, Mark Becker, and Mary Becker; three grandchildren; and a large extended family in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Jim Blair BA ’57, May 17, 2011, age 75, in Bakersfield, California. Blair was born in Hankow, Hupeh, China, to the daughter of a Lutheran missionary and a British navy man. After spending his early years in China—including a stint in an internment camp during World War II—Blair and his family crossed the Pacific Ocean on the Queen Mary to the United States. The family settled in Portland, where Blair attended Grant High School. He later worked as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker so he could earn money to attend college. While at Lewis & Clark, he met Barbara Anne Berry B.A ’57; they married a few days after graduation. The couple moved to Santa Monica, California, where Blair worked for McDonnell Douglas. Later, they moved to Ridgecrest, California, where Blair worked for the Naval Air Weapons Center China Lake. He had two sons and was an active member of Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church.


Don Rochon BS ’60, June 20, 2011, age 73, of cancer in Bellingham, Washington. Rochon received his master’s degree from the University of Colorado. He worked as a nuclear chemist for the Hanford Atomic Products Plant in Richland, Washington, and for Atlantic Richfield in Chicago and Bellingham. He was married to Donna Fields Rochon, and they had a son and a daughter.

Gary Boggs BS ’64, MAT ’68, April 14, 2011, age 69, from complications related to cancer in Rockaway Beach. Born in Kentucky, Boggs moved at age 2 with his family to Vancouver, Washington. He graduated from Hudson’s Bay High School in 1959. A health and physical education major at Lewis & Clark, Boggs was an all-American athlete in three sports: football, wrestling, and track. He taught history and retired in 2001 after serving as head football coach at Fort Vancouver High School for 34 years. Over the course of his career, he was honored with numerous awards and accolades for his leadership and was inducted into several athletic and coaching halls of fame. Boggs and his wife of 34 years, Ellen, lived in Vancouver until 2004, when they built a house in Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast. He came out of retirement to coach a final high school football season at Neah-Kah-Nie High School in fall 2010. Boggs was a member of the ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) book club in Manzanita. He attended the United Methodist Church in Nehalem and served on the Tillamook Futures Council.

Holly Coomes BS ’67, March 8, 2011, age 65, after a lengthy illness. A fifth-generation native of Sacramento County, California, Coomes was the eldest of three children. As a sophomore theatre major at Lewis & Clark, she spent a semester abroad with the USO entertaining servicemen throughout Asia, an experience that opened her eyes to new cultures and the thrill of travel. Her post-graduation jobs included stints as a restaurant manager and as a field director for the Girl Scouts of America. She continued performing and added her directorial touches to a full-scale musical, A Woman Got It Done, based on the life of her grandmother, Barbara Comstock Morse. Throughout her life, Coomes was passionate supporter of the arts. She was on the board of trustees and a committee chair of the Sacramento Theatre Company. She married Joseph Coomes in 1985, and they traveled extensively, for pleasure and in conjunction with his law practice.


Allan D. Sobel JD ’77, November 23, 2010, age 63, at the Sun Home Hospice Care Center. Sobel practiced law from 1977 to 1997 in Oregon and Michigan, primarily representing defendants in criminal proceedings and parties in professional malpractice actions. From 1997 to 2000, he served as executive director and general counsel of the Michigan Judicial Tenure commission, an organization responsible for enforcement of the Code of Judicial Conduct in Michigan. From 2000 to 2006, he held the position of executive director of the American Judicature Society, an independent, national, nonpartisan organization of judges, lawyers, and other members of the public who seek to improve the justice system. Sobel also served as the first full-time director of the Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. He married Elayne Weiss Sobel on November 25, 1977. In the months prior to his death, he helped create the Central Susquehanna Valley Mediation Center, a nonprofit designed to help community members resolve child custody and other conflicts through mediation rather than litigation. Survivors include his mother; wife; daughters Rebecca Cornish and Lee Portwood; and two grandsons.


Kurt L. Maul JD ’85, March 18, 2011, age 59. Maul was born and raised in the Portland metropolitan area, where he attended local schools. He graduated from Portland State University with a BS in economics. After graduating from law school, he became a sole practitioner who focused on business law. Maul was a history aficionado who enjoyed traveling. Friends and associates knew him as witty and kind. He was a lover of plants and animals, and was an especially avid fan of the Oregon Ducks. Maul is survived by his wife, Sharon Stroheker; his father, Dale Maul; two sisters; two aunts; and several nieces and nephews.


Jason Hale Eaton JD ’95, February 25, 2011, age 41, following a brief illness. Eaton earned his bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Arizona. At Lewis & Clark Law School, he received honors in oral advocacy as part of the first-year moot court program; he served as associate editor of the Environmental Law Review; and he worked as a tax research fellow. He also published “Creating Confusion: The Tenth Circuit’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal Decision.” Eaton was admitted to the Georgia State Bar in 1995 and the Oregon State Bar in 1998. He served as a lieutenant JAG in the U.S. Navy from 1995 to 1998 before continuing his legal career in Oregon. He was a member of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Eaton is survived by his mother, Mary Eaton; his sister Meghan Eaton Aragon; a nephew; and his daughters, Lauren, Madison, and Hannah.