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NEEPER, JOSIAH L. Labor Lawyer; Arts Patron As a brilliant labor and employment lawyer, Josiah L. Neeper ("Joe") served the San Diego community for more than half a century. Walter Ames recruited him out of UCLA Law School in 1959 to join Gray Cary Ames & Frye. At that time, no San Diego law firm had a labor or employment law practice that represented management. During his 35 years of practice, Mr. Neeper established the first such full-time labor practice in San Diego and developed it into a department of more than 20 partners and associates by the time he retired from the firm. He accomplished that by recruiting and mentoring young lawyers, many of whom have gone on to their own distinguished careers. Mr. Neeper was the epitome of integrity, professionalism and courtesy, for whom his client and his client's needs were paramount, according to his law school classmate, partner and friend for years, Pat Crowell. Mr. Neeper, 82, passed away peacefully at his home on October 29, 2012, with family present, after a brief struggle with complications from Parkinson's Disease. During his long career, Mr. Neeper simultaneously represented the City of San Diego, the Port of San Diego, and San Diego County as labor relations advisor. He produced decades of labor peace in San Diego by working collaboratively with both unions and management. Mr. Neeper also represented, among so many other clients, General Dynamics, Solar Turbines and the Copley Press, publisher of the San Diego Union and The Evening Tribune. In 1982, he was elected as Gray Cary's first managing partner, a position he held until 1989 when he stepped down to become the firm's first chair. Joe was the obvious and unanimous choice of his partners as our first managing partner, according to Robert Ames, another former partner and long-time friend. Mr. Neeper served as general counsel to the University of San Diego, where he was also an adjunct labor law professor for more than 20 years, and where he was present at the "birth" of the University with the merger of the men's college and the San Diego College for Women. He also served as general counsel and a trustee of the Zoological Society of San Diego. In 1968, Joe was nominated to be a member of the City of Los Angeles Employee Relations Board on which he served until 1994, including as its chairman. Mr. Neeper's contribution to his beloved San Diego community, however, did not stop with the practice of law. He also served as either a director or officer for, among others, the National Opera Institute, the Old Globe Theatre, the San Diego Opera, Scripps Memorial Hospital and the Timken Museum. Then, after he ceased active practice of law at Gray Cary in 1995, Governor Pete Wilson appointed him to the Public Utilities Commission, a role in which he served for almost six years. Born in Philadelphia on May 5, 1930, the youngest child of three, of Samuel Neeper and Bess Weller, Mr. Neeper spent his formative years, from age 6 to the end of high school, at Philadelphia's Girard College. Upon graduation, Mr. Neeper rejoined his mother who had moved to San Diego. He graduated from San Diego State College with a bachelor's degree in economics and then volunteered to serve in the Army for two years in Germany. Returning to the United States, he entered UCLA Law School where he graduated second in his class and was selected by the faculty to serve as the editor of the law review. His son, William L. Neeper, and his daughter, Elizabeth Anne Neeper McIntyre, both of San Diego, and his granddaughter, Catherine Anne Neeper McIntyre, of Greenwich, Connecticut, survive him. Rita, his wife of 55 years, died in August 2010. A celebration of his life will be held at the San Diego Zoo on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. All are welcome. Kindly RSVP to: dpierson@swsslaw.com. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Mr. Neeper's honor may be made to the San Diego Zoological Society or the Timken Museum as a tribute to his long-standing devotion to both the Zoo and the Timken.

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Nov. 26, 2012
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