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George F. Riseling, lawyer

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Friday, October 1, 2010; 8:43 PM

George F. Riseling, 90, a retired lawyer for the old D.C. Redevelopment Land Association, now the Department of Housing and Community Development, died Sept. 25 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring of a kidney infection.

In the 1950s, the RLA was actively involved in the controversial practice of slum clearance. In 1954, Mr. Riseling helped argue the case Berman v. Parker before the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the agency's right to seize private land in the name of public beautification.

George Francia Riseling was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the District. His father, John, was a night city editor for The Washington Post.

The younger Mr. Riseling was a 1939 graduate of Gonzaga College High School. He received a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in 1943 and was a 1948 graduate of Georgetown's law school. During World War II, he served in the Army Corps of Engineers in Washington as a lawyer.

Mr. Riseling joined the RLA in 1951 as a staff lawyer. Over the years, he served as general counsel, director of the legal office, and special assistant corporation counsel.

With the approval of the Home Rule Act of 1974, the RLA merged with the newly created Department of Housing and Community Development. Mr. Riseling became the new agency's general counsel and legal office chief while continuing to serve as assistant secretary of the RLA's board of directors, which remained active. He retired in 1979.

During his retirement, Mr. Riseling served as president of the Washington Waterfront Association and the Association of German-American Societies of Greater Washington. He was a member of St. Bernardine of Siena Catholic Church in Suitland.

His wife, Vera Ottosen, died in 1981.

Survivors include three sons, George F. Riseling Jr. and J. Charles Riseling, both of Washington, and Patrick J. Riseling of Altamonte Springs, Fla.; two sisters; and three grandchildren.

- Megan Buerger


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