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Robert Moore McManigal, the oldest practicing member of the California State Bar, died May 21. He was 102 years old. In his 75-year legal career — which began when Calvin Coolidge was the president of the United States and Ford Model Ts were one of the nation’s most popular cars — McManigal practiced intellectual property law in house and founded his own firm. Along the way, he inspired a half-dozen relatives to pursue careers in law. “He spawned a legal family based on his love for his own job,” said grandson Dwight Stirling, a solo attorney in Belmont Shore. “The law was both his pastime and his profession.” Stirling described McManigal as full of energy and constantly thirsty for information. “That’s the key for his longevity,” said Stirling. In addition to the law, relatives remembered McManigal as devoted to his family and passionate about baseball and bridge. “He still won the vast majority of any card game he played,” recalled great-niece Judi McManigal, an immigration attorney at San Francisco’s Pearl Law Group. Born in San Jose, McManigal grew up in the Bay Area, graduating from San Francisco’s Polytechnic High School in 1918. McManigal began his professional life as a chemical engineer, working for Standard Oil of California. His work reviewing patent applications eventually led him to enroll at Boalt Hall School of Law. After graduating from Boalt in 1928, McManigal practiced briefly in San Francisco before moving to Southern California. In the 1940s he co-founded Whann and McManigal with a former colleague. The firm specialized in patent and probate law. Among the firm’s highlights was a victory that declared invalid the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s patent on vitamin D. But according to his son Paul, McManigal always strove to settle cases for his clients rather than go through costly litigation. “He is quoted as saying a bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit,” said Paul McManigal. During his long career, McManigal had a number of loyal clients. He began representing Adams Rite, a Pomona lock manufacturing company, in 1946, and finally resigned as the company’s counsel in May 2002. During that time he worked with both the company’s original president and his son. In the case of Eubanks Engineering Co., another longtime client, McManigal worked with the original president, his son and his grandson. He was very involved with his clients, said Judi McManigal. “He really loved the personal interaction of coming to his clients’ assistance and giving them really good advice.” After his 100th birthday, in 2001, McManigal was presented with a certificate signed by California Chief Justice Ronald George and then-State Bar President Palmer Madden, honoring him as “the oldest active member of the State Bar.” A memorial service for McManigal will be held June 1 at his longtime home in South Pasadena. He is survived by his second wife, Claire; his sons, Robert Craig and Paul; and his daughter, Lenore Garman.

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