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Susan M. Trager

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Susan M. Trager Obituary
Trager, Susan M.
September 11, 1947 - March 22, 2011
Longtime water and environmental attorney Susan Marie Trager, who for 30 years represented property owners, public agencies and municipalities across California, died Tuesday evening March 22 at her home in Laguna Beach.
Ms. Trager, who recently described herself as a "behind-the-scenes" lawyer, rarely made headlines with her work. In one of her most prominent cases, she won a $43.2-million jury verdict for the owner of land condemned by a water agency to build a Riverside County reservoir. The judge in the case increased the award to $50 million.
Born Sept. 11, 1947 in New York City, Ms. Trager was reared in rural Connecticut. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1970, and a law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco in 1973.
Ms. Trager began her legal career in Nevada, where she founded Nevada Indian Legal Services Inc. to provide representation for the state's tribal groups, and served as a deputy attorney general for the state of Nevada. She later joined the practice of seasoned water rights lawyer Donald M. Stark in Irvine and represented the city of Los Angeles in the Owens Valley and Mono Lakes water disputes.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Trager devoted herself to mentoring young lawyers and public officials, as well as educating journalists in the complexities of water and environmental law.
Ms. Trager was planning to move her practice to the Irvine law firm of Aleshire & Wynder, which specializes in municipal and environmental law, zoning, redevelopment and land use. The firm's partner, David J. Aleshire, expressed sadness that her passing has made that impossible. "Susan was a child of the 60s who went to work for virtually nothing for an Indian tribe when she got out of law school," he said. "Public service was a part of her ethic. Susan was and is a part of our spirit." Bruce Scherer, chairman of the Laguna Beach Water Commission, called Ms. Trager's passing "a huge loss to the district, Laguna Beach and the water industry. We will miss her greatly."
Members of the water district and the Laguna Beach City Council, including longtime friend Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, are in the process of organizing a celebration of life for Ms. Trager. Private family services will be held in Connecticut.
Ms. Trager is survived by sister Laurie Trager and her husband, Robert Morrin, of Berlin, CT.; sister Nanette Trager-Fuellenkemper and her husband, Horst Fuellenkemper, of East Sussex, England; brother Frank R. Trager and his wife, Caryn, of Norfolk, CT; brother Philip Trager and his wife, Theresa Vollet, also of Norfolk; nieces Hannah and Jessica Fuellenkemper, Madeline Morrin and Nevada Trager; nephews Robert and Connor Morrin; and her cat, P.M.
In lieu of flowers, family and friends have asked that donations be made in Ms. Trager's name to either the Little Guild of Saint Francis of West Cornwall, CT, or Sherman Library & Gardens of Corona del Mar.


Published in the Los Angeles Times from Mar. 30 to Mar. 31, 2011
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