Rhoten: Colleagues pay tribute to city attorney

October, 2017 Posted in Business, Community

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 1.58.39 PMBy Mary Owen

The city of Stayton is mourning the passing of longtime City Attorney David Rhoten.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of David’s passing,” said Keith Campbell, city administrator. “He was a gifted and talented attorney who was passionate and dedicated to our community. More importantly, he was a warm and kind individual whose joy and happiness was infectious. He will be greatly missed.”

Mayor Hank Porter said he enjoyed working with Rhoten, who served as the city attorney for almost 30 years. Rhoten was given several months to live after a cancer diagnosis in early summer, Porter said.

“He was a really good guy, and good to us,” Porter said. “In his obituary, one of the things he liked was (listed as) the city of Stayton. It just wasn’t a job to him.”

Porter said Rhoten was patient with city staff and the council, always giving good advice.

“He kept us out of the courts,” he said. “I don’t know what more a city attorney can do but that. He told us when to speak up and when to shut up. The vast experience he had was really a factor in the success he – and we – had.”

Rhoten was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1961 and was a member of the Marion County Bar Association and the Northern Willamette Valley Leadership Council. He was the 2015 recipient of MCBA’s Paul J. De Muniz Professionalism Award.

In addition to his service to the city, Rhoten served on the Oregon State Bar Election Laws Committee, chaired the Law Economics Committee, and was special assistant to the Attorney General of Oregon. He also served as chair of the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Arts Foundation and Salem Civil Service Commission.

Rhoten was a board member of the Marion County Bar Association, and served on the board of the Oregon Community Foundation, chairing the scholarship committee. Additionally, Rhoten was chair of the Historic Elsinore Theatre board, honorary chair of the Friends of Hallee Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University, and a MERIT board member.

Councilor Priscilla Glidewell said Rhoten brought “a memory history to the table that is irreplaceable.”

“Oh, what a giant hole he leaves,” Glidewell said. “Not only did he have a greater history than anyone currently involved in city government, but he brought a sense of fairness, dignity and old-world charm that is hard to find nowadays.

“Of course, it goes without saying that his legal knowledge and capabilities were fantastic,” she added. “Sometimes he surprised us all with his great sense of humor. He was never anything other than polite. I cannot remember a time when David did not have a smile on his face even during times of stress and dissension among others. He will be forever missed.”

Mayor Porter said Campbell has penned a comprehensive proposal for finding an attorney to fill Rhoten’s position.

“I think we’ll get a good one,” Porter said. “It’s going to have to be someone who stays with us long-term to fill David’s shoes.”

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