June 26 – Happy Birthday Richard Horigan

HorriganForty years ago, when we sold our first house, we had a minor property dispute with our neighbor and my regular attorney had to recuse himself from the case. I asked him who he would hire if he needed an attorney and he immediately responded “Richard Horigan.” He told me that Horigan was the best lawyer he had ever met but he also told me I didn’t need an attorney for this particular minor matter. He was wrong. I lost the case and I never got the opportunity to meet today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant.” That was definitely an even bigger loss on my part. Why? Everything I’ve learned about Richard Horigan in the process of preparing for this blog post confirms that not only was he an outstanding jurist he was also a remarkable man and I would have loved to had known him.

Horigan was born in Pennsylvania on June 26, 1925, the son of a retail executive who helped oversee his company’s east coast operations, which required the family to relocate quite a bit. He attended Prep school in Maryland and then enlisted in the US Navy at the age of 17 and ended up serving as an Ensign in the Pacific theater. After the war, he graduated from Georgetown University and then Georgetown Law but he also went on a blind date that ended up getting him a wife and a new hometown.

The “wife” was the late Marie Smeallie, daughter of a prominent Amsterdam paper manufacturer. The young couple ended up getting married here in St. Mary’s Church in 1950 and the newlywed’s original plan had them settling in Massachusetts, where Horigan’s dad was then living. But probably beginning on their Maine honeymoon, the new Mrs. Horigan began lobbying for a move to Amsterdam. She must have made a pretty good case because in 1951, Horigan went into a law partnership with Montgomery County Children’s Court Judge Lewis J. Mullarkey and the Mullarkey & Horigan Law Firm pretty quickly became one of this town’s most popular dispensers of legal services.

Many Amsterdam attorneys over the years have been professionally and financially successful outside of the courtroom but not so much inside one, when arguing cases in front of a judge and/or jury. The most effective trial lawyers are not…

My complete birthday post for Richard Horigan will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. On June 30, 2016, I will also once again begin distributing an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that will include the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty  people whose birthdays I will recognize each month. Each newsletter will also include an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.

The next issue of the Amsterdam NY Birthday Blog Newsletter will be e-mailed to all current subscribers next week. You’re not going to want to miss it so make sure you join the Newsletter’s mailing list here. Your address will not be used for any other reason than sending you the newsletter each month.

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