Anthony C. Diepenbrock, a longtime partner of Diepenbrock & Cotter LLP, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, May 2, 2021.
Anthony (“Tony”) Diepenbrock graduated from Santa Clara University in 1961. He knew he wanted to be a lawyer and entered law school the following year at Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco, California. In 1966, Tony began work as a prosecutor in the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office where he achieved early success as a trial lawyer.
Tony honed his craft as a trial lawyer and established a courtroom presence that allowed him to relate well to juries. After several years of prosecuting major crimes and, as was the practice for most assistant district attorneys in those days, Tony moved to private practice in 1970, joining Claire Greve and Ed Clifford in a law firm that eventually became the 60 attorney firm Greve, Clifford, Diepenbrock & Paras. Tony spent his legal career after leaving the district attorney’s office defending clients in civil lawsuits.
Tony defended a wide variety of lawsuits in state and federal courts including employment and labor matters. Overall, his practice focused heavily on the transportation industry. His client base ranged from individual truck drivers to Fortune 500 companies like Union Pacific Railroad and Coca-Cola. He defended trucking companies, railroads and other businesses who found themselves in lawsuits, often high risk, “bet the company” lawsuits.
Tony enjoyed the respect of his peers in Sacramento as well as the Sacramento County and federal judiciary. In civil litigation circles, Tony was someone most judges, mediators and attorneys knew well. In 1993, Tony left Greve Clifford and formed his own firm with Dan Costa for the next seven years. In 1999, Tony founded Diepenbrock & Cotter LLP with John P. Cotter.
The firm continues to operate and prosper with the help of Tony’s good name and reputation that he established back in the 1960’s. In 2007, Tony officially “retired” but not fully. To the very end, Tony maintained his license to practice law, taking yearly continuing education classes. He continued to visit the office, often daily, working on a handful legal matters and constantly offering strategic advice and counsel to the firm’s lawyers.
Most of his time spent in retirement on legal matters was for family and friends and most often without compensation. Tony was always willing to help people, from the bus boy or gardener Tony might befriend to the old client who would call Tony after many years. His sound and strategic legal advice, often mixed with humor, will be missed by all who worked with him.
Throughout his life, Tony was an outdoor enthusiast, especially fishing, golf and duck hunting. With a cabin on the Fall River in northeastern California, he was an avid fly fisherman, who enjoyed many Western rivers, as well as salmon fishing in Alaska with Santa Clara friends. A golfer since childhood, he was a proud member of Del Paso Country Club. In the autumn he traded his golf clubs for a shotgun and headed to the H Pond Duck Club, where he hunted in the Yolo By-Pass. No matter where he was, he found peace and great appreciation in the beauty of Nature.
His greatest satisfaction, however, came from his home, where Tony showered love and wise counsel on his wife of almost 50 years, Helen, and their three daughters, Laura, Meg and Claire. A top priority for Tony was planning annual family vacations from coast-to-coast so the children could experience our nation's history and appreciate its natural treasures. As the girls got older, itineraries included travel abroad, but his favorite place to be was home. Nothing made him happier than barbecuing a steak on a warm summer night with a Sierra Nevada in hand, especially when regaling his three grandkids, Clara, Will and Helen, with his ready humor and spirit of fun.
Tony will be greatly missed by his business partners, family and friends.