Newport City Attorney Steve Rich passed away Sunday evening from complications from a problematic heart and failing kidneys. Steve was 67 when he passed-on during the night.
Steve was born at the south end of California’s San Joaquin Valley to a rather low income family where they tended to farm work in the area. When Steve graduated from high school he entered college, paying his own way by milking cows twice a day – in the morning and then later in the day, squeezing in his college work in between at Loma Linda University.
Steve was active in student government, served as a municipal intern for the League of California Cities, and as a Congressional Intern for Congresswoman Shirley N. Pettis in Washington, D.C. Steve graduated in 1976 with a double major in History and Political Science and was awarded a B.A. degree “with honors.”
From there Steve entered law school at Willamette University, College of Law. He worked for the Oregon Department of Justice as a law clerk from 1977 until 1979 while still in law school. After graduation and admission to the bar association, he was hired as an Assistant Attorney General by the Oregon Department of Justice.
Steve and his wife moved to Grants Pass in 1982. He established a successful law practice and maintained that practice until 1994 when he decided to seek election to the position of Josephine County Legal Counsel. He was elected and sworn into office in January 1995.
Steve and wife made Josephine County their home for many years. But eventually they made their way to Lincoln County where the Newport City Council hired him as a new Newport City Attorney. He served in that capacity for five years.
Steve was a tremendous asset throughout the various iterations of city councils by providing a great deal of sound legal advice to the council and others at Newport City Hall. City Manager Spencer Nebel said there was a long tradition of part-time city attorneys advising the council but added that Steve’s legal expertise and deep knowledge and mastery of local government rules and regulations made it imperative to hire him full time.
Unfortunately his failing health cut short his stay on this Earth. He is sorely missed by his family and his colleagues at Newport City Hall and among our community-at-large.
For Attorney Steve Rich, Court is Hereby Adjourned.