Dan Dubitzky, a warm, bright, inspiring light to his family and his many friends, passed away peacefully on March 10. Dan will be remembered for his devotion to those he loved, his intellectual rigor, his irrepressible humor, and as one of the leading attorneys in the Seattle criminal defense bar. He was 70.
Dan Rodger Dubitzky was born in 1951 in Midland, Texas, the eldest of three children to Roy and Dot. His childhood was a mix of Sunday School and Leave It to Beaver-esque antics, and he was shaped by his diverse upbringing in New Orleans, New Mexico and Colorado. His life’s course was set when, in his junior year of high school, he met a brown-eyed Greek-Italian girl named Marilyn Guadagnoli. From then on, Marilyn’s love and powerful good sense helped Dan make the most of his natural gifts. They studied in Paris, traveled to Greece and married in 1979. That year, the couple settled on Bainbridge island, where they would raise their boys and remain for the next 40 years.
Dan attended night school at the University of Puget Sound Law School and spent his days working under the principals at Tanner, McGavic, and Burgess. When Jack Tanner became the first Black federal judge in the Pacific Northwest, Dan was one of his first clerks. Dan then took a position as a federal public defender under Irwin Schwartz, a job that informed the way he viewed and practiced law for the rest of his career.
In 1986, Dan formed a prosperous and enduring law partnership with Alan Zarky and over the next two decades, Dan rose to become one of the most prominent white-collar defense attorneys in the state. He litigated cases that garnered national attention, defended Fortune 500 Companies and was made special assistant state attorney general when he successfully coordinated the University of Washington’s response to an investigation. In 2006, his peers in the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers presented him with the William O. Douglas Award, their most esteemed honor.
A cancer diagnosis forced Dan into early retirement in 2005. Initially given just months to live, he instead spent 17 improbable years reveling in the success of friends and former opposing counsel and relishing time spent with his devoted sons, Matt and Nick. Thanks to the tireless efforts of doctors across the country, he even got to see the lights of his life — his grandchildren, Luca and Jett — grow into outstanding young men.
Despite his success, Dan was never impressed with himself. He was the kind of lawyer who believed deeply in justice but traveled with swim trunks in his briefcase on the off-chance work took him to a town with a nice swimming hole. He had the rare ability to make everyone, from clients and colleagues to friends and family, feel valued and loved. He never wanted to be defined by his disease — and he would have hated to hear anyone say this — but the grace with which he handled his fate deeply inspired those around him.
Dan is survived by his wife Marilyn; sons Matt and Nick and daughter-in-law Sarah; grandsons Luca and Jett; sisters Mary and Jane; and a second line of friends, colleagues, doctors, CEOs, middle school classmates, and acquaintances who count themselves lucky to have known him.
A service will be held in Seattle later this year. There are too many doctors and advocates to thank for Dan’s extended time with his family, from Drs. John Thompson and William Ellis at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to specialists in Texas and Boston to his sister, Jane, and fellow patients on Smartpatients.com. So please, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MD Anderson.