A good friend from high school, Mary Beth King, recently lost her father. Our families are related by
marriage and although my friendship with Mary Beth formed its strongest bonds during high school, I
had known her and her family all my life. The years since graduation found our paths occasionally
entwined, most notably after college when my friend gave me a tip to get a job as a paralegal in the law
firm where she was employed. The tip was successful: I got the job and I got to spend lots of time in
and out of work over the next year with my old high school chum. Life was good.
My year as a paralegal led me on a path to law school. Mary Beth’s father, Mike King, was a practicing
lawyer in Portland, my parents’ lawyer and, in his own way, a formative figure in my own career. His
death made me reflect on the influence Mike had on me and on my career. Long before contemplating
law school, I knew that Mike had attended Lewis & Clark night school for his law degree, while working
full time to support his young family. Mike encouraged me to go to law school, unlike many in the legal
profession who told me not to waste my time because, they said, I would never get a job practicing law.
(I have made it my mission since hearing this bad advice in the early 1980s to prove the naysayers
wrong.) The firm I clerked within law school had cases with Mike and our paths continued to cross in
Portland where I practiced for a few years before moving to Reno. I took every opportunity to watch
Mike in court or to sit next to him while waiting for our respective cases to be called and listen to his
commentary on the proceedings we were witnessing. It was on one such occasion that Mike shared
sage advice that has stuck with me for 35 years: when the judge rules in your favor, leave the
courtroom before he has a chance to change his mind.
I continued to see Mike after I moved to Reno, although with regrettable infrequency now that we no
longer shared any cases or had the chance to catch up at court or meet for lunch. He continued to
encourage me in my career and seemed always to have time to talk about my plans. I was thrilled when
he received an appointment to the Oregon federal district court, an honor he richly deserved.
Mike King was a pillar of the Oregon bar and the Oregon federal bench. Without assumption or fanfare,
Mike was a mentor to me and I have been blessed by his interest, advice, humor and skill.