Longtime Spokane attorney and former U.S. Magistrate Victor J. Felice died Friday while visiting relatives in Toronto.
Born in Spokane, Felice, 76, graduated from law school at Gonzaga University, where he was the boxing team’s captain as an undergraduate.
“He was the toughest little short guy I ever saw,” said former classmate and fellow attorney Pat Murphy. “He could fight.”
In 1951, Felice began practicing law and eventually opened the downtown firm Felice & Felice with his brother. Later, two of his children joined the firm.
Murphy and other colleagues remembered Felice as opinionated and smart, ornery yet fun. Years ago, Murphy recalled, Felice came to court for a routine hearing where lawyers get their cases assigned to a particular judge.
At that time, there were five judges on the bench in Spokane County, Murphy said, and attorneys could object to one if they wanted.
“That day, Vic objected to all five,” Murphy said. “He didn’t like any of them. Not at that moment, anyway.”
Felice was a member of the Washington State Bar Association and in 1966 organized and became the first president of the Spokane Chapter of the American-Italian Club.
He was appointed to the first of six consecutive four-year terms as U.S. magistrate in 1956. He resigned in 1978.
In 1984 he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the state Supreme Court. In recent years, Felice spent time writing dozens of letters to the newspaper, voicing opinions on everything from golf fees to road improvements in Spokane.
Spokane attorney Roger Felice said his father’s strong views were legendary among his friends.
“With my father, it was definitely what you see is what you’re going to get,” the younger Felice said Monday.
But there was a gentler side to Felice that few ever saw, Roger Felice said. “He was a wonderful family man,” he said.
Felice is survived by three daughters, Gabriele Huycke of Albany, Ore., and Anna Harrington and Lisa Vogt, both of Spokane; two sons, Roger Felice of Spokane and Stephen Felice of Othello, Wash.; and 15 grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Harvest Christian Fellowship. Visitation is Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hazen and Jaeger Funeral Home.
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