Stanley L. Temko, 91

Stanley L. Temko, Covington and Burling law firm partner, dies at 91

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stanley L. Temko, 91, a retired partner with the Washington-based Covington and Burling law firm who specialized in antitrust and food and drug law, died March 7 at his home in Washington. He had congestive heart failure.

Mr. Temko, who joined Covington and Burling in 1949, served more than a decade on the firm's powerful management committee and sat for a number of terms as the group's chairman.

He played a role in helping the firm grow from about 100 lawyers to more than 800 and expand its offices to London, Brussels and New York.

In practice, Mr. Temko specialized in cases involving antitrust, regulatory, and food and drug law. He represented the Tobacco Institute, watchmakers Longines, Bulova and Piaget and several major pharmaceutical companies including Eli Lilly, Merck and Smith Kline.

Mr. Temko first came to Washington in 1947 as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge. Mr. Temko was joined in Rutledge's chambers by another promising lawyer - John Paul Stevens.

"He had an exceptionally bright legal mind," Stevens, who retired last year from the Supreme Court, said in an interview. "He could describe a complicated case, filled with a bunch of sophisticated arguments, in simple language so that anybody could understand it."

At Covington and Burling, Mr. Temko had a part in many of the firm's biggest cases, including a 1952 U.S. Supreme Court case, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, that limited the president's power to seize private property.

Mr. Temko also took part in the negotiations when The Washington Post moved to purchase its crosstown competitor, the Times-Herald, in 1954.

Mr. Temko became a senior counsel at Covington and Burling in 1990.

Stanley Leonard Temko was born in New York on Jan. 4, 1920. His late younger brother, journalist Allan Temko, won the Pulitzer Prize for his architecture criticism at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Stanley Temko was a 1940 graduate of Columbia University, where he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. At Columbia's law school, he was editor in chief of the law review and was first in his graduating class in 1943.

He served in the Army in Europe during World War II, and his decorations included the Bronze Star Medal.

His wife, Francine Salzman Temko, a Justice Department and civil rights lawyer, died in 1998.

Survivors include three sons, Richard Temko of Brussels, Edward Temko of London and William Temko of Los Angeles; and five grandchildren.

Stevens recalled that working for Rutledge, a stern taskmaster, was a formative, though not always pleasant, experience. To cope with the doldrum days, Stevens said he relied on Mr. Temko's good humor.

"Who says the Justice isn't friendly?" Mr. Temko once told Stevens. "I just rode down on the elevator with him, and he greeted me with 'Hmph.' "

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