Renowned attorney and true renaissance man Ron Rouda passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on March 12, 2022.
A native San Franciscan, Ron was born in 1934. His parents, Harry and Marguerite (Migs), raised their three children Bob, Ron and Carole in the Marina district and St. Francis Wood. Growing up, Ron and his neighborhood pals would play at the Marina green or spend the day at Playland at the Beach. Ron attended Marina Junior High School, where he was known as a practical joker who loved to make people laugh. During his youth, the Rouda family spent summers at Tahoe Tavern in Lake Tahoe, where he later was a lifeguard. He graduated from Lowell High School and later University of California at Berkeley where he was a member of Zeta Beta Tau. After attending law school at Hastings College of Law, Ron began a celebrated career in law that lasted over 50 years.
He had his first date with the love of his life and soulmate, the model Sue Speer, at Tosca in North Beach on Valentine’s Day 1963. They married later that year. Together the Roudas raised their daughters, Davia and Meika, on the lagoon in Belvedere, where Ron was well known for jogging around Belvedere Island, swimming in the lagoon, playing tennis at the Tiburon Peninsula Club and golfing at the Marin County Club. A natural entertainer, Ron starred in many musical productions with The Pelican Players, a beloved community theater group with Sue as the producer.
A lifelong athlete, Ron was an avid runner, swimmer and skier who could be found on the slopes of Alpine Meadows well into his eighties. He completed 12 marathons in Paris, and embraced the frigid waters of Lake Tahoe every summer for a daily swim.
He and Sue fulfilled a lifelong dream when they bought a house on Lake Tahoe forty years ago. Together they have shared many summers, holidays and celebrations with friends and family at their beloved retreat, “The Rouda Roost.” Ron was known as a wonderful storyteller, and many nights at the ‘Rouda Roost” were spent sharing jokes and laughing with friends.
A talented musician and artist, Ron spent hours oil painting on the shores of Lake Tahoe, the Belvedere Lagoon and the fields of Provence, France inspired by Monet, a favorite artist. He practiced the piano daily, often late into the night to memorize a song and had a vast repertoire that included Broadway musicals, jazz, Cole Porter and the Beatles. In 2001 he played Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with a full orchestra at the legendary club Bimbo’s 365 in San Francisco.
His love for the arts balanced his passion for practicing law. For over fifty years Ron was devoted to representing persons and families who had suffered catastrophic injuries or the loss of a loved one. The firm Ron founded, now known as Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & McGuinn, is nationally and internationally well known.
Over the course of his storied career, Ron obtained numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. While doing so he also served as an officer in numerous legal organizations including as president of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and president of the California Trial Lawyers Association (now known as Consumer Attorneys of California). Ron was an invited Fellow of the International Society of Barristers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. In recognition of his excellence in trial advocacy, his decades of service to the legal community, and his passion for educating the public on the importance of the right to trial by jury, Ron received ABOTA’s highest award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2011. He was also the recipient of ABOTA’s California Trial Lawyer of the Year, the Don E. Bailey Civility and Professionalism Award, the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Consumer Attorneys of California’s Marvin E. Lewis and Robert E. Cartwright, Sr. awards. He was admitted by the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., to try cases before this august body.
As national president of ABOTA, he and a group of trial attorneys were invited to a state reception by Hungarian President Árpád Göncz in the historic Parliament building in Budapest. Together they discussed civil reforms and the adoption of trial by jury in Hungary.
Ron was committed to the art of trial work. He wrote numerous articles on trial practice and was a coauthor of the five-volume California Tort Practice Guide. He was also devoted to educating the public, particularly youth, on the importance of the right to trial by jury, a subject on which he taught and wrote extensively. Ron was a sought after counselor to his peers and mentored many young attorneys. Additionally, he was the guiding spirit behind ABOTA’s successful nationwide program, “The Youth Education Project, an Interactive Curriculum,” teaching children about the history, importance, and value of trial by jury that was adopted by Scholastic Publishing.
Ron is survived by his wife Sue, his daughter Davia Rouda and her husband Brian Skinner, his daughter Meika Rouda and her husband Christopher Brown, his four grandchildren: Brianna Skinner, Casey Skinner, Kaden Brown and Asha Sue Brown; his sister Carole Engler, her husband Peter, and Ron’s many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Ron will be remembered by his family as a loving husband, adoring father and grandfather, by the thousands of people he helped through his trial work, and by his colleagues for his enduring contributions to the practice of law. His humor, compassion and zest for life will live on in many memories. Ron was a friend to many and an inspiration to all.
A private Celebration of Life will take place in April. In lieu of flowers, the family invites those interested in honoring Ron to donate to the ABOTA Foundation in Ron’s name www.abota.org/foundation or the League to Save Lake Tahoe, www.keeptahoeblue.org.