Leonard W. Schroeter
Constitutional lawyer and civil rights advocate, Leonard W. Schroeter, died on April 28, 2014. Born in 1924 in Chicago, he grew up in Hammond, Indiana, and attended Indiana University. In 1943 he interrupted college to enlist in the U.S. Army. He served in the Allied Area Command in Florence, Italy, and later worked for Stars and Stripes. After the war, he attended the University of Chicago, where he received his master's degree in International Relations. His legal career began following his graduation from Harvard University Law School in 1951, when he joined the legal staff of the NAACP's Legal Defense & Education Fund, then headed by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall.
At the end of 1952, he moved to Seattle to become Northwest director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. He continued to work tirelessly for civil rights, and served as a board member and as president of ACLU-Washington, and in 1964 became the first national board member from the Pacific Northwest. After serving as deputy prosecuting attorney for King County from 1955 to 1956, he started a trial law practice which became Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender in 1968. He earned a national reputation as a plaintiff's trial lawyer and as an advocate for constitutional rights. He was named Trial Lawyer of the Year (1993) by the Washington State Trial Lawyer's Association, and received many other awards and honors in recognition of his professional achievements. A frequent speaker, he published many articles on constitutional law and access to justice.
In the early 1970s he lived in Jerusalem and served as principal legal assistant to the Attorney General of Israel. One of his assignments was to work on the issue of human rights and the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union. During a visit to the Soviet Union in 1972, he met with underground samizdat writers and human rights activists, and for a decade served as their attorney and representative to publishers in Europe and the U.S. He is the author of The Last Exodus, a study of the Soviet Jewry movement.
Len practiced law in Seattle until his retirement in 1989, and was of counsel to Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender. In 1997 he joined the law firm of Stritmatter Kessler Whelan Withey Coluccio as of counsel. He continued to be active in a variety of constitutional, civil rights, and human rights causes. He was a leader in the access to justice movement in Washington, and instrumental in the formation of Washington state's Alliance for Equal Justice. He loved their motto, "it's not justice if it's not equal."
He is survived by his wife, Alice, his sons David Michael (Dari Lewis), Pt. Townsend; Daniel Schroeter (Jessica), Minneapolis, MN; Benjamin Schroeter, Seattle; and Joshua Schroeter (Lisa Kartiganer), Seattle; and his stepdaughters Caitlin Davis Carlson and Sara McPhee (Sean), both of Seattle. And his grandchildren, who brought him great joy: Myriam Schroeter, New York City; Naomi Schroeter, Minneapolis, MN; Sophia Berman, Chicago, IL; Ani Schroeter, Jeremy Schroeter, Sam Schroeter, Lucy Carlson, and Sophia McPhee, all of Seattle. He was preceded in death by his former wife, Dorothy Schroeter.
His family is grateful for the devoted and compassionate care he received at Evergreen Adult Family Home where he lived for the last three years.
A memorial gathering will be held in June, date and place to be announced.
Donations may be made in his memory to Legal Aid to Washington Fund (LAW Fund) or Public Justice Foundation. Please sign Len's online Guestbook at www.Legacy.com