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Obituary: Symmes, William Daniel

Age 74

William Daniel

A long-time Spokane attorney, died on October 3, 2012. He was born in Spokane on September 10, 1938 to Sheila and William J. Symmes. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Jayne; and their children, Ashley Talarico (David) and their children Madeline and Hannah; and William M. Symmes, II (Gena) and their children Melissa, William John (II), and Samantha.

Bill graduated from Gonzaga High School in 1956 where he lettered in basketball and baseball and was elected President of Knights of the Leash. He participated in student government, and was elected senior class president.

Bill earned his B.A. cum laude in philosophy and logic from Georgetown University in 1960, which he attended on a national scholarship. He was a member of the Honors Program and was elected ROTC cadet of the year his freshman year.

He earned his M.B.A. from the Columbia University School of Business in 1962, which he attended on an Edward John Noble Fellowship. In 1965, Bill earned his law degree from Stanford University’s School of Law. At Stanford, Bill served as President of the Stanford Law Forum and was a member of the Moot Court Board. After graduating from law school, Bill commenced his private practice in Los Angeles, where he resided for three years before returning home to Spokane.

In 1968, Bill joined the law firm of Witherspoon, Kelley, Davenport, and Toole in downtown Spokane, where he practiced for 43 years. He served on the Board of Directors for 33 of those years and was the managing partner between 1990-2009. He was a tireless and fearless advocate for his clients, and an inspirational mentor to two generations of younger trial lawyers whom he took under his tutelage.

Bill was a member of the Bars of Washington, California, and several federal courts including the United States Supreme Court. His practice primarily focused on litigation matters specializing in business, products liability and medical negligence defense cases. From 1987 on he was regularly recognized in the “Best Lawyers in America.” In 1991, he was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers and in 1992, to the American Board of Trial Advocates. In 2012, Bill was honored by his peers with the Michael J. Hemovich Award, in recognition of his dedication to improving the administration of justice and the betterment of the legal profession. Bill also was one of a handful of lawyers from Spokane to have argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bill was a co-owner of the AAA Spokane Indians minor league baseball club in late 1970’s. From 1983-1985, he was a co-owner of the AAA minor league baseball club, the Las Vegas Stars.

Bill was active in the business and civic community where he served as a Director of Momentum and Focus 21. He was a former director of Spokane Youth Sports Association (SYSSA) and Director of Big Brothers. He was a long-time member and director of the Greater Spokane Sports Association. (GSSA).

He also coached Junior National Football for 20 years and Babe Ruth and Pony Baseball for over five years. In recognition of his contribution to local sporting events and youth activities he was selected Spokane’s Young Man of the year in 1969 by the Spokane Jr. Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Spokane Club, Manito Golf and Country Club and the Empire Club.

Bill was a founding member, Director, and Chairman of the Board of Riverbank headquartered in Spokane, WA.

Bill enjoyed all types of sports, travel and leisure. In particular, he loved renowned bars in old classic hotels, such as the Algonquin in New York City. He loved war movies and cross word puzzles. He was a voracious reader whose interests covered all subjects (in particular, military history). During the holidays, he made a point to read a novel by Charles Dickens.

Most of all, Bill savored spending time with his grandchildren and watching them play in their various sporting activities. He especially liked to relax on the deck with his family at Priest Lake, sharing stories and discussing whatever topic was of interest on the day. He indeed was a loving father, husband, grandfather, and friend. He will be missed by many.

The family would like to thank the nurses and health care providers in Spokane and Seattle for all the compassionate care over the last two years.

Services will be held honoring his life on Monday, October 8th at 11:00AM at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church located at 428 W. 19th Spokane, WA. A reception will follow immediately at Manito Country Club, 5303 S. Hatch Rd. Spokane, WA.

A visitation will be held the day before on Sunday, October 7th from 1-6 PM at Hennessey’s Funeral Home at 2203 North Division.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Providence Health Care Foundation, 101 W. 8th Avenue, Spokane, WA 99204; Lilac Services for the Blind, 1212 N. Howard, Spokane, WA 99201; or Catholic Charities of Spokane, 12 E. 5th Avenue, Spokane, WA 99202. Please visit Bill’s online memorial to leave a message of condolence at