Albert Coke Roth to be honored for contribution to Academy of Children's Theatre

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 4, 2013 

Albert Coke Roth III is as gregarious as he is unpretentious. He's an attorney, a wine connoisseur, a stalwart advocate for the arts and a self-admitted child at heart.

"I have five terrific kids (who range in age from 17 to 42) who are raising me," he joked.

And though his law practice keeps him busy, Roth remains a tireless humanitarian, lending his legal help to numerous nonprofit agencies.

That dedicated volunteerism has earned him a bundle of accolades in the past few decades, including Tri-Citian of the Year in 1987, the Governor's Award for Volunteerism in 1986 and Kennewick's Man of the Year in 1987.

And on Feb. 8, Roth will be honored again by the Academy of Children's Theatre at its annual Heart for the Arts fundraiser.

"We are honoring him for the significant contribution he has made to ACT and dozens of other nonprofit organizations over many years," said Anne Sampson, past president of the ACT board of directors.

Roth is one of those nondiscriminating givers, Sampson added.

"He approaches his nonprofit work the same way a public defender might approach a criminal case -- that everyone deserves good legal advice. He doesn't pick favorite causes or politically correct organizations," she said. "He has been in ACT's corner since we formed 16 years ago, and we count him as one of our most trusted assets."

Paris Rodgers, executive director of ACT, also credits Roth with keeping ACT afloat.

"He donates a ton of legal expertise to help us stay out of the weeds, to help guide our board of directors," Rodgers said. "And he does it all out of the goodness of his heart."

Roth is humbled and honored by ACT's Heart for the Arts honor. But he also is quick to point out that he is just one of many Tri-City lawyers who donate their expertise to nonprofit agencies.

"There are countless (attorneys) out there who work awful hard without any recognition," Roth said. "I am just a spoke in the wheel."

Roth graduated from Moses Lake High School in 1968. He spent four years at the University of Washington and then trained with the Gallo Wine Company in Los Angeles before joining the family business, Roth Distributing Co., in the Tri-Cities in 1973. He eventually became president of the company and in 1989 sold the distributorship. That's when he decided to go to law school.

"I wanted an occupation that offered choices, and law offered me that," he said. "So at age 40, I went (and) enrolled at the University of Puget Sound."

Even though society tends to take punches at attorneys for their sleazy tactics in the courtroom, Roth takes the hype with a grain of salt, claiming the law is still good.

"I'll always do work for nonprofit organizations, and sometimes I charge for it depending on their situation. I have to make a living," he added. "Besides, it's fun for me. Like with ACT, if I can help them feel safe, then I know those volunteers can help teach kids about theater better. And that makes me feel good."

And when Roth isn't giving pro bono aid to nonprofits, he's lending his connoisseur's palate to wine competitions and various festivals.

The Heart for the Arts fundraising banquet is open to the public. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with a reception and wine and microbrew tasting and silent auction. Dinner is at 7 p.m., followed by the tribute to Roth.

Tickets are $75 and available online at www.academyofchildrenstheatre.org or call 943-6027.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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