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SAN JOSE — Lewis Fenton, a co-founder of San Jose’s Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel, died Thursday of heart failure. He was 79. Fenton was known as a quick-witted trial lawyer, jazz buff and amateur violinist. He was still visiting the Hoge, Fenton offices until recently wearing his customary bow tie, says his longtime friend and law partner Michael McSweeney. “If there was anything that stands out about Lew, it was that he had a way of being gracious to everyone regardless of their station in life,” McSweeney said. “He would know the spouse’s names of secretaries he hadn’t seen in six months, and he would be interested in them.” Fenton, who was born in 1925, attended Stanford University as an undergraduate and a law student, graduating in 1951. He was the first recipient of the Chief Justice Phil Gibson Award for Community Service and a member of Phi Delta Phi. Fenton founded the firm that bears his name in 1952 and lived to see it grow into San Jose’s largest law firm, with two offices and about 50 attorneys. Fenton also was a mentor to future lawyers. He was a member of the Board of Visitors at Stanford Law School, a faculty member in the Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy at Hastings College of the Law, and an instructor at Stanford and the University of San Francisco School of Law’s trial advocacy programs. A music aficionado, Fenton was a founding director of the Monterey Jazz Festival. McSweeney said Fenton’s passion for music was infectious. In one memorable incident during a wedding party for partner Bud Jones, Fenton climbed on the roof of the house where the ceremony was held and played songs from “Fiddler on the Roof” on his violin. Fenton was a fellow and former state chairman of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is survived by his wife, Gloria; his sons, Dan and Lowery; and his daughters, Pam and Juanita. There will be a memorial service at 3 p.m. Thursday at the York School in Monterey. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Lewis L. Fenton Scholarship Fund at the York School. Contributions should be forwarded to the attention of Chuck Harmon at 9501 York Road, Monterey, CA 93940.

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