Lawyer's goodwill in Boise lauded

A business attorney for decades, the late Dick Fields was a mentor and benefactor.

adutton@idahostatesman.comMay 1, 2014 

  • MEMORIAL SERVICE

    A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Simplot Ballroom of the Boise State University Student Union, 1700 University Drive. A reception at The Arid Club, 1137 River St., Boise, will follow the service.

Richard "Dick" Fields retired more than a decade ago, but that didn't stop him from working. Until his final days, Fields could be found at Concordia Law School in Boise or at his law firm, Moffatt Thomas Barrett Rock & Fields, serving as ombudsman or training new associates - or mentoring a receptionist who credits Fields with changing her life.

Fields seemed omnipresent to the people who knew him. He joined and helped lead a slew of civic and legal organizations, including the Boise Rotary Club, the Boise Philharmonic, the Salvation Army, the Learning Lab literacy program and the board that created the state's first paramedic service.

His wife of 57 years, Shirley, joked that Fields should have worn a sign, "Will work for food," because of how often he had lunch and dinner meetings as a retiree.

Fields died April 23 at age 83. He was active until a little more than a month ago, when he fell and injured himself. That led to surgery and hospitalization. He died while recovering in a rehabilitation center.

"Nobody predicted, including his medical staff, that he was at risk of dying at that time, so it was a total surprise," said Diane Fields, one of his daughters.

His family and friends remember his simple joys - sitting on the porch of his Boise home or on the deck of his McCall lakeside cabin. They remember his sense of decorum. When one of his daughters was killed in 1998 and her husband found not guilty by reason of insanity in the death, Fields "handled it with grace" instead of bitterness or anger, Diane Fields said.

People also remember how Fields refused to trumpet his accomplishments, even as the awards piled up.

"None of this was ego-driven," said Steven Fields, his son.

When he died, Fields was delighting in a fairly new role that combined his two loves, law and education. He was chairman of the dean's advisory council at Concordia.

Many lawyers also know Fields as a mentor.

Pat Olsson is a partner at Moffatt Thomas. When she moved to Boise from Chicago in 1983, she was "just a baby lawyer," she said.

She met Fields in Burley while working on a medical malpractice case - she credits him with shaping Idaho's medical malpractice law in the 1970s - and he took her under his wing.

"He set an example (for the Moffatt Thomas lawyers) of giving back to the community and supporting people, and being not only a professional law firm but a participating community member," she said. "He set that example for me."

Thirty years later, Fields went out to Parkview High School in Nampa to talk about his career.

That visit, in 2012, was life-changing for Cassie Orizaba. She was a teen mother in her senior year at the alternative high school.

After the lecture, she asked the man she still calls "Mr. Fields" if she could interview him for a senior project about working in the legal industry.

"He took it to the next step and spent the whole day with me," taking her to Concordia and to lunch, she said. He told her she could accomplish anything.

He brought Orizaba to the Moffatt Thomas office to interview two other lawyers. Before she left, Fields walked her over to the human resources office and insisted that the firm hire Orizaba. She's now the receptionist. At 19, she is working toward a college degree - she wants to work in the legal industry - and raising a daughter.

"I owe it all to Mr. Fields," she said. "He's the one that believed in me, and the reason why I have a totally different outlook on life. ... He instilled a faith in me and a courage that I didn't know I had."

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey

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