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Originally published Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 8:09 PM

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Irwin Treiger, tax lawyer and civic leader, dies at 79

Tax lawyer Irwin Treiger, who died Sunday at age 79, advised many government leaders and was active in community affairs and devout in his religion.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Whether it was using his extensive knowledge of taxes to advise his friends Gary Locke or Norm Rice, represent a client pro bono or run a charity, Irwin Treiger was willing to give, say his longtime friends.

On Sunday (Oct. 20), Mr. Treiger died after a brief illness. He was 79.

“Irwin was a giant in the profession and a giant in civic activities,’’ said James Tune, who worked at Bogle & Gates law firm with Mr. Treiger for 25 years.

Mr. Treiger was born in Seattle to immigrants, Sam and Rose Treiger, who operated Thrifty’s Ten Cent Store in the Central District. He grew up in a large extended family, sharing holidays with his parents, his brother Ray, his grandparents, and many uncles, aunts and cousins.

He attended Horace Mann School, Seattle Talmud Torah and Garfield High School, where he earned all A’s, except for one B, which his mother never let him forget, his family said.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, he graduated from the University of Washington in 1955 and in 1957 from its law school, where he served as editor-in-chief of the law review. He received his degree in taxation from New York University the next year.

“He had an extremely wry sense of humor. He was brilliant, loyal to friends, family and clients, loyal to the firm,’’ Tune said. Mr. Treiger had been chairman of the American Bar Association (ABA) division on taxation and served on the board of governors for the association.

“He had an incredibly generous spirit,’’ said his longtime friend Bob Watt, a former Seattle deputy mayor. “He was very engaged in all kinds of civic affairs.’’

He helped revive the Seattle Symphony when it was plagued with financial difficulties in the 1980s. He was a trustee for the Samis Foundation, which has renovated a number of historic buildings in the city and funded Jewish education and culture. He was president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.

His religion was important to him, and he was proud to be a Jew and to keep kosher, Watt added. He was a director of the King County Multiple Sclerosis Society and numerous other charities.

“This was a man who took his community service seriously and was always willing to help,’’ Watt said.

In 1997, Gov. Gary Locke proclaimed May 28, 1997, “Irwin Treiger Day.”

Mr. Treiger was “a key civic leader during my term as mayor,’’ said former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice. “He would always give you good insight on how to proceed forward. ... He was always astute.’’

He knew “how to make the city better,’’ and he’d base it on what was “fair and right,’’ Rice said.

He was a baseball fan who had visited every major baseball park in the United States and never missed an annual Canadian fishing trip or his monthly lunch with friends.

Mr. Treiger was still working at Dorsey & Whitney and Stoel Rives, a law firm, at the time of his death.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Lou, of Seattle; his brother, Ray Treiger, of New York City; children Louis, Karen and Ken Treiger, all of Seattle; and nine grandchildren. Donations in his memory may be made to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.

The funeral for Mr. Treiger will be at 12:30 p.m. Monday in the Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle.

Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or nbartley@seattletimes.com or



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