Edna M. Lingreen, 99, who was a secretary to a U.S. Supreme Court justice before becoming a lawyer for the Justice Department, died Aug. 8 at Collington Episcopal Life Care Community in Mitchellville.
She had congestive heart failure, a niece, Jo Ellen Dudycha, said.
Miss Lingreen came to Washington in 1939 as the personal secretary to Wiley B. Rutledge, who had been appointed that year to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She continued to work for Rutledge when he was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, from 1943 to 1949.
Miss Lingreen received a law degree from George Washington University in 1948, joined the Justice Department in 1949 and was a trial lawyer with the antitrust division until her retirement in 1972.
At a 1999 forum at Prince George’s Community College that recognized senior citizens, she said she was one of a handful of women in the antitrust division.
“They tried to put me in [an office] with all women,” she recalled, adding that she successfully objected to the separation. “Even when I left the department, there weren’t very many women. Now, the law schools are half women. The whole situation must be infinitely different.”
Edna Marion Lingreen was born in Webster County, Iowa. She was a 1934 graduate of the University of Iowa, where she also received a master’s degree in French in 1935. She began working for Rutledge in the 1930s, when he was dean of the University of Iowa law school.
She lived in the District before moving to Collington in 1990. She was a member of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington and later of Goodloe Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Bowie.
She was a volunteer teacher of English as a second language and also volunteered with groups that made recordings for the blind.
She had no immediate survivors.
— Matt Schudel