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Donald Howard Wollett


1919 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Donald Howard Wollett Obituary
Donald Howard Wollett

Branch Rickey is quoted as saying:

"luck is the residue of design." Don Wollett loved baseball and was a great believer in Branch Rickey. Don admired Rickey's decision to break Major League's color barrier by bringing #42 - Jackie Robinson - to play second base for the Dodgers. Don served as a salary arbitrator resolving disputes between clubs and players and later worked for baseball agent Scott Boras advising him on labor issues. Don's rich professional history included practicing and teaching law and arbitrating labor disputes.

Don died at age 95 on September 23 at his residence at the Home on the Harbor in Freeland. He was born on July 5, 1919 in Muscatine, Iowa and grew up in Peoria, Illinois. He was near the top of his class academically and won the Illinois high school debate championship with his speech "the Nine Old Men," criticizing the Supreme Court decisions overturning New Deal legislation. Don attended Bradley University and law schools at the universities of Chicago and Indiana. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942, and became a "90 day wonder," a reference to his training as a Midshipman, which eventually landed him a Lieutenant's rank. At age 25 he commanded his own ship, a SC511, chasing Nazi subs in the Gulf of Mexico. On August 7, 1945, the day following the bombing of Hiroshima, he received a telegram while in the South Pacific, announcing the birth of his son, Fritz.

Don and his wife, Anne, moved to Seattle in 1946 so Don could accept a position on the faculty of the University of Washington. He taught labor law, constitutional law and torts for 12 years. He also practiced law and was a founding attorney of the first ACLU chapter in Seattle. Perhaps his most demanding obligation came when he was appointed UW Faculty Athletic Representative in 1957 following the NCAA's discovery of illegal payments to Husky football players. He represented the UW athletic program when the NCAA determined what punishment the Huskies would receive for their misconduct, a job he performed with skill and discretion.

In 1959 Don accepted a position on the faculty of the New York University School of Law. He was the first director of NYU's Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program After NYU, he taught for two years at Louisiana State University, McGeorge School of Law, University of California, Davis and a year at Harvard Law School. Don represented the National Education Association as an attorney in New York City in the 60's and 70's. He co-authored a book with Robert Chanin on teacher negotiations. Don also worked for New York governor Hugh Carey as State Director of Employee Relations. Don arbitrated in excess of 3,000 cases and was well liked throughout the union-employer community.

Don retired to Whidbey Island in 2000. Don lived with his beloved German Shepherd, Major, and late wife, Ruth, in their house overlooking Cultus Bay. During that time, he wrote Getting on Base, based on his love of baseball and his autobiography, Dog Law, co-authored with Susan Crowell.

Don was a strong believer in social justice and enjoyed a good political discussion. He loved dogs and cats. He enjoyed his years on Whidbey Island and made many friends. Two daughters, Jenny Campbell and Penny Wollett, and his only sibling, Joan Carrel, predeceased Don. He is survived by Fritz, his daughter, Dylan, grandson Brent Campbell of Sacramento and granddaughter Jenny Kay Wollett of Las Vegas.

A memorial service will be held on October 18, at 1 p.m. at the Universalist-Unitarian Church located at 20108 SR 525, Freeland.
Published in The Seattle Times from Oct. 10 to Oct. 11, 2014
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