A sudden puff of wind filled the spinnaker and dragged Dan Brink over the side of the pitching sailboat off Whidbey Island. As his friend hauled him back aboard, Brink clung to...
A sudden puff of wind filled the spinnaker and dragged Dan Brink over the side of the pitching sailboat off Whidbey Island. As his friend hauled him back aboard, Brink clung to the rail, the line he had been moving on the boat clinched in his teeth.
“He was dedicated,” said Bob Stephens, Mr. Brink’s crewmate in that sailboat race years ago and a longtime racing partner.
It was the same kind of dedication, friends say, that led the prominent Seattle attorney and former state legislator through legal battles ranging from the Kingdome construction to attempts to restructure the state Democratic Party.
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“He was just a terrific lawyer,” said his law partner Win Todd. “He loved getting involved in problems and finding a way to a solution.”
Mr. Brink died Wednesday after a four-month battle with esophageal cancer. He was 75.
When city leaders proposed in 1968 that the Kingdome be built near Seattle Center, Mr. Brink sued to prevent the stadium at that site, which many believed would seriously congest the Queen Anne area. He lost that case but was active in a referendum campaign that rejected the site.
Mr. Brink also was known for his lengthy battle against efforts to expand representation on the State Democratic Committee. He argued for those who wanted to keep the representation to two people for each county a man and a woman instead of also allowing representation based on legislative districts. He won the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, but the committee later expanded its membership through a legal technicality.
A native of Bay Lake, Minn., where his father owned a fishing resort, Mr. Brink grew up loving the outdoors. He was a hunter and fisherman and traded the pelts of animals he trapped for credit at Sears. His family later moved to Portland and then Seattle, where his father found work. He ran track and was class president at West Seattle High School, where he graduated in 1947.
At the University of Washington, Mr. Brink worked at a title company to put himself through college and law school. He then served in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps for two years at Fort Lee, Va., before going into private practice in Seattle.
As a private attorney, Mr. Brink took on a huge variety of cases. He was an expert in property cases and testified before the Legislature on issues regarding mortgage foreclosures. He also was known for his representation of individuals against big business or in other difficult circumstances. His clients ranged from waiters to the shareholders of the Alaska Native Corporation.
“Dan’s rule was that anybody who walked through the front door got help,” said his former law partner Joe Trethewey. “He never turned anybody down. He didn’t ask about money first. None of those rules applied in our joint.”
Mr. Brink served in the State House of Representatives from 1959 through 1963, including stints as vice chairman of the judiciary committee and assistant majority floor leader. He later served as counsel to the speaker of the House and as special counsel to several state-insurance commissioners.
Beyond his professional duties, Mr. Brink was a sailor’s sailor. He raced his boat, “Tonic,” for years; he cruised all over the waters of Western Washington and Canada. When he wasn’t working, most often he was sailing, said his wife, Patricia, whom he met at the Corinthian Yacht Club after a race.
Even at sea, she said, he was always on the lookout for boaters in trouble, so he could stop and help.
“He was a very good and kind person,” she said. “He was quiet, not a blowhard. He was very humble about his achievements in life.”
Besides his wife, Mr. Brink is survived by a nephew, Mark Brink, and a niece, Christina Brink, both of Seattle.
A memorial service for Mr. Brink will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Butterworth-Arthur-Wright Chapel, 520 W. Raye St., Seattle.
Memorial contributions may be made to Swedish Medical Center Foundation: 747 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122.
Warren King: 206-464-2247