Oregon State Bar Bulletin — NOVEMBER 2006
In Memoriam

Portland tax lawyer Joseph Wetzel died peacefully on Sept. 28, 2006, from the effects of a stroke he suffered four days earlier. Wetzel was 62 years old.

Wetzel was born and raised in Philadelphia. He attended Muhlenburg College in Allentown, Pa., and Temple Law School in Philadelphia. After law school, Wetzel accepted a position with the Portland office of the Office of Chief Counsel for the United States Treasury. He relocated to Portland with his family in 1969 and passed the Oregon State Bar the same year. While with the Treasury, Wetzel litigated civil tax cases on behalf of the commissioner of Internal Revenue.

Wetzel left government service in 1974 and practiced with the Portland firm Black Helterline. He then started his own firm and eventually formed a partnership, Wetzel DeFrang and Sandor. In private practice Wetzel continued his focus on civil and criminal tax litigation and tax planning. Over his career Wetzel litigated numerous precedent-setting tax cases in the Oregon and federal courts.

Wetzel was often happiest doing what he loved, practicing law, but remained involved with his family as well, often recruiting his children to help out at the firm.

Wetzel may have been best known in the legal and tax practitioner community for his presentations, for he was a dynamic and energetic speaker. It was often said that "Wetzel is the only one I know that can make tax interesting." In 2002, the Oregon State Bar awarded Wetzel its membership service award, in large part due to his participation in continuing legal education courses. Wetzel also served for a short time as an adjunct professor of tax law at Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College.

Throughout his life, Wetzel regularly befriended the least fortunate in our society, and he always offered a hand (and more) to those in need. When Wetzel was forced to undergo kidney dialysis treatment in the year before his death, he immediately endeared himself to the diverse patient group and medical professionals he met there.

Wetzel is survived by his wife of 41 years, Norma, their five children (including OSB member Michael Wetzel) and five grandchildren.

• • • • •

Immigration attorney Michael Muñiz of Salem died Sept. 30, 2006, from a heart attack. He was 54.

Muñiz was born July 3, 1952, in Monterey, Calif., where he grew up. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning a degree in political science in 1975. He received his J.D. from the Northwestern School of Law in1978.

His many friends remember Muñiz as one who dedicated his life to representing the disadvantaged. They also recall his humble beginnings as an immigration lawyer with Oregon Legal Aid. In 1990, Muñiz went into private practice as an immigration lawyer in Salem. Many of his clients were divided families seeking citizenship for loved ones who were foreign nationals.

Muñiz received the Gerald H. Robinson Excellence in Advocacy Award from the Oregon chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

He is survived by his wife, Lydia Gaona, a son and four grandchildren.

• • • • •

Harlow F. Lenon, who served as a Mutlnomah County Circuit Court judge from 1965 to 1981, died on Oct. 25, 2006, at his home in southeast Portland.

He was born in Portland on Oct. 27, 1913. In 1920 his family moved to a house on Southeast 46th Avenue, where he lived until his marriage to Jane Howe in 1950. Their own house was built next door. There they raised two sons. Lenon attended Duniway Grade School and graduated from Franklin High School in 1931.

After two years at Reed College studying history, he graduated from Northwestern School of Law and was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1937. He went into private practice with his father, Charles E. Lenon, until he was drafted in World War II. In the Battle of the Bulge, Capt. Lenon led a company in the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion through France, Belgium and Germany, earning a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and five ETO Battle Stars.

He resumed his law practice in 1945, eventually establishing a partnership with state Senator Don S. Willner. In 1965, Gov. Mark Hatfield appointed him to the circuit court bench.

Lenon taught a variety of classes at the Northwestern School of Law and its successor, Lewis & Clark Law School, for 24 years. He served on the OSB Board of Governors from 1963 to 1965. A year after his retirement Judge Lenon was named First Citizen by the Portland Board of Realtors.

In retirement, he and his wife enjoyed travel, revisiting some of the sites of his European combat. He was an avid reader with particular interests in European and American history, art and science. Also, he volunteered for 15 years as a reader for Independent Living Resources, taping books for the blind.

He impressed those who knew him with his delightful sense of humor, his great learning and his sincere concern for people.


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