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Philip J. Poth
1911 - 1998

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Philip J. Poth, Who Lived A Robust Life, Dies
By Carole Beers
Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Seattle maritime attorney Philip J. Poth worked hard, played hard and cooked hard, serving up prodigious meals in the well-appointed kitchen of his Capitol Hill home.

The former longshoreman and ex-professional-football player who practiced maritime law and handled injury claims over six decades, just didn't hold back in life.

He represented clients few others wanted to. He hunted and fished passionately, tying his own flies. He played football in his living room. And he was a master at the indoor barbecue, said his family.

He also painted. His work of a bird in flight hangs in a judge's chambers at the King County Courthouse. "People and attorneys who had to appear in courts that day said they like that painting because it was so relaxing," said his wife of 60 years, Florence Poth of Seattle.
Mr. Poth died Thursday (Sept. 24) of complications from a fall. He was 87.

Born in Seattle, he graduated from Seattle Preparatory School. He played college football while earning a bachelor's degree at Gonzaga University in Spokane. He briefly played with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.

Back in Seattle he worked as a longshoreman and took part in labor disputes of the 1930s. He also was a bodyguard for International Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) officials.

Supported in part by the ILWU, he studied law at the University of Washington and earned a law degree in 1939. Except for a brief partnership, he became a sole law practitioner. He represented the ILWU for 35 years. He also worked for the Port of Seattle, and made an unsuccessful bid for port commissioner in 1960.

"He had a fabulous memory and could recall things instantly," said his friend from law-school days, Philip Schoel. "He also had intense focus."
Mr. Poth simply was "a brilliant guy with a huge personality," said his daughter-in-law Sue Poth. "He read Latin and Greek, and was a history buff. If you challenged him, you would always come up short."

Other survivors include his children, Philip Poth Jr., Michael Poth, Christopher Poth and Martina Goodin, all of Seattle; Sue Ann Riley of Ketchum, Idaho; and Kathy Lea of The Highlands; and nine grandchildren.


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