The activist and attorney died in his Seattle home Monday of a heart attack, according to friends and relatives, but the legacy he leaves for the city will survive.

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Activist and attorney Cleveland Stockmeyer was a passionate advocate for justice, underdogs and the greater good.

The 59-year-old died in his Seattle home Monday of a heart attack, according to friends and relatives, but the legacy he leaves for the city will survive.

Mr. Stockmeyer, who was known as Cleve, fought the proposed siting of a new basketball stadium in Sodo, tried to expand monorail service throughout the city, worked successfully to have Seattle City Council members elected by district and to take big money out of campaigns, and backed the $15 minimum wage law.

As a personal injury lawyer, Stockmeyer brought numerous successful suits against Seattle police for what he claimed was excessive use of force or punitive treatment.

“He was really happy when he could make a difference in the life of his clients and get a measure of justice for people who were harmed,” said his sister Claire Stockmeyer Goodwin, who lives in the Arlington, Va., area where Mr. Stockmeyer grew up.

Friends and family describe a “Renaissance man” who “was always involved in a grand passion.”

“He was smart and funny and could make a combative point with charm, grace and class,” said his brother Carl Leubsdorf, of Washington, D.C.

An eternal scholar, Mr. Stockmeyer earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Oberlin College, a master’s in political science from Columbia University and a law degree from New York University School of Law. He also studied Spanish and taught himself Portuguese, his brother said.

After moving from New York to Seattle in 1992, he plunged into campaigns. While working with the 36th District Democrats, he met paralegal Jeanne Legault, with whom he became inseparable friends.

“He felt things deeply, he experienced his clients’ pain, and that’s why he was such a great advocate,” Legault said.

More than six years ago, he won a serious battle with lymphoma and kidney cancer.

More recently, Mr. Stockmeyer was among the chief authors of the ballot measure to change the Seattle City Council from nine at-large members to seven districts and two at-large positions. Mr. Stockmeyer believed the change, which passed in 2013, would encourage candidates to better represent their constituents.

He was a prominent opponent of a proposal to have Seattle give up city land to build a third sports stadium in the Sodo neighborhood, potentially for a new professional basketball or hockey team to use.

It wasn’t that he was against basketball or even a new stadium, Legault said. Rather, he opposed a public subsidy for billionaire entrepreneur Chris Hansen, who has sought city-backed bond funding for the project.

The Seattle City Council voted 5-4 Monday to reject selling Hansen part of Occidental Avenue.

Mr. Stockmeyer had championed expanding the monorailto run from West Seattle to Ballard and then potentially throughout the rest of the city. When that measure was voted down, Mr. Stockmeyer was devastated, and it took him a couple of years to rebound, Legault said.

But rebound he did, becoming a key player in the successful fight for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle.

He also was pivotal in the movement to make big, private money less important in elections by giving voters vouchers to fund their candidates of choice.

When the Honest Electionsinitiative passed last year, making Seattle the first in the nation to embrace the idea, he was ecstatic.

In addition to Leubsdorf and Goodwin, Mr. Stockmeyer is survived by his sister, Lorna Stockmeyer, of Arlington, Va.; his brother, Bill Stockmeyer, of Portland, Maine; and his stepfather, Carl Leubsdorf of Washington, D.C. He was predeceased by his mother, Carolyn Cleveland, and father, Edwin Stockmeyer.

A service for Mr. Stockmeyer will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Bleitz Funeral Home, 316 Florentia St. in Seattle.

A memorial walk around Green Lake will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, with friends and family gathering at the parking lot between the Boathouse and the Community Center.