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PHIL NORGAARD

Obituary
  • "Although I have only had the pleasure of his company a few..."
    - Marie Garcia
  • "Although I had not seen Phil for many years, I have fond..."
    - Vicki Cheney

Philip J. Norgaard was born December 30, 1945, in Pasadena, Ca. and passed away quietly at home on Tuesday, August 6, 2013. He is well known for his long career as an attorney in the Fresno area, starting with the United States District Court in Fresno; then with Dietrich Glasrud Mallek & Aune; with the Fresno County Counsel; and most recently with Coleman & Horowitt. Many will also remember Phil for his many years as an on-camera news reporter with Channel 30 Fresno. A role that gave him great visibility in the San Joaquin Valley. But describing Phil as a broadcaster and trial lawyer only scratches the surface. Although he was born in Pasadena, the family soon moved north to the San Francisco Bay Area, settling in the Oakland Hills. There, Phil thrived on independence and freedom, as his parents encouraged him to go anywhere he wanted, so long as it was by foot or bicycle. Phil loved the outdoors. Through family and friends, scouting and the Sierra Club, he became accomplished in skiing, backpacking, sailing and river running. He even built his own fiberglass kayaks. In 1963, he graduated with the first class of the new Skyline High School, having made his mark as a competitive swimmer. In 1967, Phil graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science, and Phil and his classmate and new wife, Lindy, both took teaching jobs in Los Angeles, Ca. But not for long. Frustrated by classroom teaching, Phil decided to try his hand at broadcasting (attracted, he claimed, by a matchbook ad). When Phil experienced frustration he also spotted opportunities, which led him to explore additional careers and gain further skills, which included attending law school. As a result, Phil had special knowledge and real world experience that backed up his legal specialties in business and construction litigation, and banking and media law. In his long career in law, Phil was known for his ability to press his client's position with well-researched advocacy, honesty, civility, and forthrightness. He was especially well versed in exploring creative resolutions to avoid or cut back the costly and often middling outcomes of litigation. To him each case was a complex problem, and he worked tirelessly to simplify and solve rather than prolong or worsen the hostilities. Phil was well respected by judges and attorneys alike as a zealous but professional practitioner and colleague. Over his lifetime, his many jobs included lifeguard; white water river guide; merchant seaman; high school teacher; news writer; radio and television announcer; federal court clerk; trial attorney; yacht broker; book editor; and construction supervisor. He lived and worked in many California locations, including Oakland, Los Angeles, Porterville, Terra Bella, Berkeley, Parlier, Fresno, Clovis, Martinez, Richmond, and Oxnard, where he lived for several years on his sailboat. Phil loved reading and good writing of all kinds. He could tell a good story, and loved hearing the stories of others. His interests were broad, and he carried an upbeat attitude, in spite of the intractable heart problems he endured for much of his adult life, and which finally took his life. He will be greatly missed by family and co-workers, former clients, and by a vast circle of friends and acquaintances. Phil was preceded in death by his parents, John and Marva Dawn Norgaard. He is survived by his brothers and sisters-in-law, Todd and Linda Norgaard of Pacific Grove, Richard and Nancy Norgaard of Berkeley; his son and daughter-in-law, Eliot and Pranee Norgaard of Poulsbo, Wa.; his daughter and son-in-law, Kristen and Floyd Hager of Parlier; their mother, Lindy Norgaard of Parlier; and two grand-daughters, Danielle and Claire Hager of Parlier. A Celebration of Life gathering is being planned.
Published in the Fresno Bee on Aug. 18, 2013
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