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Irrepressible in life, Spokane attorney Pat Stiley memorialized in stories

UPDATED: Sat., July 29, 2017, 10:34 p.m.

Longtime Spokane attorney Pat Stiley was one of a kind, and so was his memorial gathering Saturday at the Satellite Diner and Lounge in downtown Spokane.

The standing-room-only crowd packed the lounge, sipping cold drinks while they traded their favorite – and sometimes ribald – accounts of Stiley’s much-storied life.

There were the old favorites – the one about Stiley appearing before a judge via webcam, wearing a shirt and tie and absolutely nothing below the waist, for example.

But there were lesser-known numbers as well, like the time the attorney came to court with a leaf of marijuana, still an illegal substance at the time, emblazoned on his briefcase.

Others fondly recalled one of Stiley’s ties, a cheeky number depicting aspects of the male anatomy more commonly found on hospital posters. That, too, found its way into court on occasion.

Friends and colleagues described him as a kind, brilliant man who had a zest for life, a penchant for breaking the rules and a tendency to drive his cars with abandon.

Stiley, age 70, died July 21 in Spokane. About 18 years ago, he moved to Belize but continued practicing law in Spokane, appearing in court via web conference and sending court documents by email.

Colleen Freeman, owner of the Satellite, said she was honored to host the gathering in Stiley’s memory.

“He was colorful and very righteous and a very giving, generous person,” Freeman said. “This is where he would come when he came to town. This was kind of his office away from his office.”

Stiley’s son, Blue, said people spent the afternoon telling him their favorite stories about his dad. Many were about his time as a criminal defense lawyer who specialized in marijuana cases.

“I saw him differently than everyone else,” he said.

One of his favorite memories of his father is hopping on the running board of his dad’s MG, which he would ride down their long driveway to the road in the mornings as his dad left for work. His father started work early and stayed late, making those mornings precious enough that Blue didn’t mind the early rising.

“To be able to start my morning with him on that running board was pretty special,” he said.

Rich Spies, who worked as a private investigator for Stiley for seven years, recalled an account Stiley had given of running out of gas as he attempted to cross Sherman Pass in the winter. After a while waiting for somebody to drive by, Stiley said, he ran out of something else as well – cigarettes.

Between the prospect of freezing to death – Stiley never wore a coat – and the lack of nicotine, it was the latter that bothered him the most, Spies said.

“Having another smoke was more important than freezing to death,” Spies said. “He didn’t plan well for things like that. He was more concerned about his cases.”

Stiley’s stepdaughter, Kelsie, spoke fondly of her father before the gathered crowd. “He was great,” she said. “He took me under his wing as a little girl and showed me life, and I’m eternally grateful.

“He loved all of you. Life goes on and he would want that.”


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