By the Herald editorial staff
Diehl Rettig had the sober self-confidence of a successful trial lawyer, tempered by an innate sense of irony and a genial natural charm.
He had been at the center of so many things so often here in the Tri-Cities that his memory banks were loaded with "the last time that happened" or "here we go again" kinds of comments.
Deja vu could have been his middle name.
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Rettig died suddenly Wednesday in Spokane at age 66. He was said to have had a serious blood disease, followed by a stroke.
Friends had been noticing for some time that he didn't look well.
And he had lots of friends.
Rettig was into lots of things, either as counsel or as volunteer champion, and his business interests extended well beyond his law practice.
He had lots of opponents, but, to our knowledge, no enemies.
He could square away in the courtroom, giving his all for his client without undertaking a vendetta against the other side.
Selected as Kennewick Man of the Year in 1995, his was a ready presence on many volunteer boards and he was the attorney of choice for a number of public agencies.
He was particularly active in and fond of Kennewick General Hospital.
Recently, he supported the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center, serving as vice chairman of the board of the nonprofit that is raising money to build the $40 million center. He also was a member of the capital campaign steering committee and the governance committee.
"There was no finer trial lawyer in all of Washington," U.S. District Judge Ed Shea told the Herald. "He ranks in the top trial lawyers in the history of the state."
That is remarkably high praise from someone in a position to know.
It also is interesting to note that Rettig was a great admirer of the Drug Court in Benton and Franklin counties because of its ability "to turn lives around."
According to Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Miller, Rettig is one of the reasons drug court remains an alternative to the criminal court system.
One of Rettig's final acts was to attend a drug court graduation ceremony, where former addicts celebrated their successful diversion from an otherwise wasted life.
Rettig was born in Seattle and was a graduate of Seattle University. He received his Doctor of Laws degree from Gonzaga University in 1969.
He was a member of the Washington Bar Association and former president of the Benton-Franklin County Bar Association.
Diehl Rettig was an asset to the community wherever he touched it.
Funeral services are pending.