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Remembering Willis V. Carpenter and William A. Richey

June 2022


Willis V. Carpenter

February 20, 1929—April 8, 2022

Willis “Bill/Will” Carpenter, 93, died peacefully at his daughter’s home in Denver on April 8, 2022, surrounded by family and friends. A former Denver Bar Association president, Willis was a highly regarded real estate attorney who had over 60 years of legal experience and was one of the most respected real estate attorneys in Colorado. His practice focused on real estate and commercial transactions, farm and ranch sales, conservation easements, and title insurance issues.

A Colorado native, Willis was raised on his father’s ranch five miles east of Hayden. He attended public school in Hayden until his family moved to Denver, where he attended Morey Middle School and East High School. After high school, he made his way to the East Coast, where he attended Princeton University, graduating with a BA in 1951. During his undergraduate years, Willis was a member of the Princeton Tigers’ crew team. After college, he attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1954.

Willis was admitted to the Colorado bar in 1954 and started practicing law. The following year, having received a Selective Service deferral to complete his law degree, Willis reported to Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He served on active duty in Naval Intelligence from 1955 to 1958 and continued his reserve duty until his retirement with the rank of captain in 1977.

In 1978, Willis and his law partner, Andrew “Andy” Klatskin, formed Carpenter & Klatskin, P.C., where he practiced until his retirement in 2019. Willis and Andy were joined throughout the years by several remarkable real estate attorneys, but Willis was particularly proud of the firm’s fantastic paralegal, Holly Hoxing, who co-taught with Willis for many years, and Darlene Sturges and Pricilla Kimitch, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every aspect of the law firm functioned properly.

Willis was often referred to as the dean of Colorado real estate law. Among his leadership positions, he served as DBA president (1978–79), was a director for CLE in Colorado (1967–88), chaired the CBA Real Estate Section (1976–77), and served on the CBA Board of Governors (1975–80). He was also the founder of POETS, an organization of real estate attorneys that he described as a group “who felt that the cross-pollination of informal discussion was beneficial to their own practice.” In July 2016, POETS held its 500th meeting with roughly 220 members.

Willis was a charter member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. He received the DBA Award of Merit in 1993 and the CBA Award of Merit in 2004. He was also the first recipient of the Richard N. Doyle CLE Award in 2002, and in 2004, he became the first recipient of the Real Estate Hall of Fame Award from the Colorado Real Estate Section.

Willis loved practicing real estate law and spent a great deal of his time teaching, writing, and mentoring other attorneys. His publications included the Colorado Real Estate Practice Guide and the Colorado Title Insurance Practice Guide, both published by CLE.  Willis also had a passion for teaching. He taught the Colorado Bar Refresher Property Law course from 1972 until 1981, and every fall for over 30 years he taught a 10-week course on real estate practice for new attorneys. Willis spoke at numerous other events, and his annual speech at the CBA Real Estate Symposium was always a highlight of that event.

Outside of practicing law, Willis was an avid gardener. In the summer, he could be found working in his garden, carefully cultivating over an acre of vegetables and meticulously documenting the location of each planting and the particular seeds used. One of his favorite pastimes was counting how many fresh vegetables from his garden were on the dinner table each evening.

In 1996, the Carpenter family donated a conservation easement on the Carpenter Ranch, and the property was sold to the Nature Conservancy. Willis was proud of this transaction, which enabled the property to continue operating as a ranch yet also be used for research and remain open to the public, thus maintaining his father’s tradition of permitting access to the property’s wildlife, its native vegetation, and the Yampa River.

Willis is survived by his significant other, Barbara Shecter; six children, Catherine, Charles, Marian, Carol, Stacy, and Kendra; eight grandchildren, Steven, Patrick, Kyle, Nicholas, Jordan, Jackson, Max, and Cash; eight nieces and nephews; and 28 great nieces and nephews. Donations in his honor may be made to Colorado Symphony, History Colorado, or your charity of choice.

 

William A. Richey

January 25, 1948—March 11, 2022

A true Colorado native, William “Bill” Richey was born in Denver in 1948. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and his law degree from the University of Denver, which he attended at night while working full time at Music For All in Denver. Second only to his love for his wife Mary Moser, Bill loved classical, jazz, and many other kinds of music. He was also an avid reader and enjoyed cooking and travel.

After graduating from law school in 1983, Bill opened his own practice for a few years and then became law clerk to Bankruptcy Judge Charles E. Matheson in 1986. This started Bill’s career in bankruptcy law, which spanned 35 years until his retirement.

Bill joined Weinman & Associates in 1991. As his colleague for 35 years, I came to respect Bill’s deeply analytical and thoughtful approach to people and the practice of law. At his core, he was a thinker and approached the law from an intensely academic perspective. He truly loved research and debating his conclusions.

One of his greatest achievements was prosecuting and prevailing in In re Phillips, 139 P.3d 639 (Colo. 2006), in which the Colorado Supreme Court adopted the doctrine of “reverse piercing.” Bill was rightfully proud of this major accomplishment.

Both professionally and personally, I will miss Bill enormously, including the intensity of his interest and discussion about political issues. He had the greatest integrity and was the most kind and gentle soul imaginable. His passing is a loss not only to his family and friends, but also to the Colorado bar and whatever might remain of civility in our society. His life and kindness were blessings to all who knew him.

—Submitted by Jeffrey A. Weinman, Weinman & Associates, P.C.