Frederick von Unwerth ’65

Frederick (Rick) H. von Unwerth died May 3, 2015, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

In life he was a father, husband, lawyer, lawmaker, music lover, sports fan, wordsmith, intrepid traveler, and bon vivant.

His unfailing good cheer, with him throughout the course of a merciless disease, he inherited from his mother Ruth Gordon Scott; his pragmatism he got from his father, Frederick Bertram (Fritz). Rick was born in Austin, Texas in 1941 but spent the happy years of his childhood roaming the streets of Augusta, Georgia, distinguishing himself as a champion speller, wit, budding journalist and Eagle Scout.

At Davidson College, Rick wrote for the college newspaper, writing thoughtful articles against racial and social injustice and segregation in the south.

At the University of Georgia where he took his law degree, Rick slept in a stable, was an editor of the Law Review and authored articles such as “Red,White, Blue and Green: Color Consciousness in Public School Desegregation” and”Substantive Due Process and Felony Treatment of Pot Smokers: the Current Conflict.” It was here too that he met his wife and partner of 46 years, Sandra Coakley.

After a clerkship on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, Rick spent the rest of his professional life practicing corporate law with the law firms of Alston, Miller and Gaines and later Kilpatrick Stockton in Atlanta and Washington, DC. He also spent several years as Chief of Staff to Congressman Wyche Fowler in the U.S. House of Representatives. He and his wife Sandra retired to Woodstock, Vermont in 2000, a place he loved as no other.

In retirement, Rick served as Chairman of the Upper Valley chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and was a guardian ad litem in the Court System of Vermont.

In addition to his wife, Rick leaves behind his devoted family: son Matthew von Unwerth and wife Jacqueline, daughter Anna Davenport and husband Joshua, three grandchildren, sister Susan Overman and brother Randolph Gordon von Unwerth as well as a lifetime’s worth of wonderful friends. There will be a musical celebration of his life at a future date.

Memorial donations may be made to Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Valley, P.O. Box 1083, White river Junction, VT 05001

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