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James B. McKenney

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James B. McKenney Obituary
James B. McKenney September 2, 1928 - February 19, 2014 IN MEMORY Passed away peacefully in Novato on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. He is survived by his beloved wife, Judith McKenney, all of his children - Michelle Homan and Scott McKenney, John Gibbons, Jennifer Gibbons, Laura Crawley and Jon Lothenore; his six grandchildren; Stephen and Christopher McKenney, Jake and Timothy Dutton, Lillian and Jack Gibbons; and his sister Phyllis Stone, brother-in-law Dick, along with many loving nieces and nephews and in-laws, of whom he was very proud. Jim was raised in his parents' home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated as valedictorian from Marshall High School, and then attended the University of Minnesota and its Law School from 1946 to 1952, earning a B.S.L., LL.B., and J.D. He received the Order of the Coif, graduated with honors, and was president of the Law School Council. Jim served in United States Air Force with the Judge Advocate General's Department from 1952 to 1954, participating primarily as trial and defense counsel in general and special courts-martial. Upon discharge from the service, he clerked for the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court until June, 1960. From June, 1955 to June, 1957 he simultaneously held the position of Deputy Attorney General of the State of California where his duties consisted of preparation of pleadings, motions, and rand evidence for Arizona v. California in the United States Supreme Court regarding Colorado River Water rights. From 1957 to 1967, Jim was associated with the San Rafael law firm of Pendergrass, McKenney, Perry and Ward. He engaged in general practice, as well as specializing in real estate. Jim represented land developers, contractors, and sub-contractor, dealing primarily in real estate security devices, construction and subdivisions. From July 1967 to September 1993, he established a solo practice in San Rafael, often assisted by individual real estate counsels Scott Phillips and Len Rifkind. From 1970 to 1993, his practice was devoted primarily to litigation in defense of real estate licensees, and resolving disputes between principals in real estate transactions. Jim was a certified instructor on the "Standard of Care" for agents, a consultant and expert witness for other attorneys, and the author of "Standard of Care - A Real Estate Agent's Guide to Risk Management" published in 1994. From 1993 to March 2012, Jim acted as counsel for Professional Publishing of San Rafael, becoming its owner and president in December 1993. The company sponsored "risk management" and other educational courses for real estate licensees. In January 1995, Jim was awarded Affiliate of the Year Award by Marin Association of Realtors. In 1997 he authored and published a standard office policy manual for real estate licensees, with both California and U.S. editions. In 1967, Jim acquired title to the Whispering Pines Pet Cemetery in Sebastopol, CA in lieu of attorney fees. When he was first notified that "Tootsie", a large and famous elephant, had died and the owners were arranging for her to be displayed on the front lawn of the cemetery for the public to see and admire, Jim believed it to be a joke. However, notification of a special freezer car and rail transport arrangements from the east coast and telegrams from around the world asking when this would take place so that they could come and see "Tootsie" convinced him that this would be an important event. Everything proceeded according to schedule until a phone call confirmed that "Tootsie" was "bad ordered" in Barstow, CA. Jim had to make a number of calls utilizing all of his skills to avoid a bad ending for "Tootsie" in the California desert. At last "Tootsie" arrived, hand delivered; a small box containing a stuffed elephant with a tag reading "I am Tootsie". Unknown to Jim, a former associate, now working as an attorney for the railroad, had engineered the entire event. The local newspapers, having been made aware of the details, published the complete story. Jim laughingly told this story for the rest of his life, considering it one of the greatest and most clever practical jokes ever. It represents the wonderful life that Jim McKenney led. Jim remained deeply concerned about the burden that proper legal representation posed on individuals and families of limited means. His family suggests remembrances to the Legal Aid Society of Marin. At his request, no services are being held. Interment will be in a private ceremony at Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery Friday, February 28, 2014.
Published in Marin Independent Journal on Feb. 26, 2014
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