Lawrence E. Walsh, a former federal judge who served as the court-appointed Independent Counsel investigating the Iran/Contra matter from 1986 to 1994, died on March 19, 2014 in his home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, following a brief illness. He was 102 years old.
Judge Walsh was born in Port Maitland, Nova Scotia, on January 8, 1912. He grew up in Flushing, Queens, New York, where he attended high school. His father died when he was 14, and he worked his way through college and law school by working as a merchant seaman during the summers He graduated from Columbia College in 1932, and from Columbia Law School in 1935. In later years, Judge Walsh was a trustee of Columbia University, and received its Medal for Excellence.
After graduating from law school, Judge Walsh served as a prosecutor in the office of New York County District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey. After Dewey was elected as Governor of New York State, Judge Walsh served as Assistant Counsel to the Governor from 1943 to 1949, and as Counsel to the Governor from 1950 to 1951. From 1951 to 1953 Judge Walsh was Counsel to the New York State Public Service Commission, and from 1953 to 1954 he was General Counsel and Executive Director of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
From 1954 to 1957 Judge Walsh was a United States District Judge in the Southern District of New York, appointed by President Eisenhower. From 1957 to 1960 he served as the Deputy Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice during the Eisenhower Administration.
In 1961, Judge Walsh joined the New York City law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP as a senior partner. In 1969, Judge Walsh served as Deputy Head of the United States delegation to the Paris peace talks on Vietnam, with the rank of Ambassador. Judge Walsh retired from Davis Polk in 1982 and moved to his wife's home town, Oklahoma City, where he was of counsel to the law firm of Crowe & Dunlevy.
In 1986, Judge Walsh was appointed as Independent Counsel to investigate the Iran/Contra matter. He served as Independent Counsel from 1986 to 1994, during which time he and his office brought indictments against Oliver North, John Poindexter, Caspar Weinberger, and other defendants. After completing his work as Independent Counsel, Judge Walsh wrote a book about his experiences, which was entitled Firewall: The Iran/Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up. Judge Walsh also wrote an autobiography entitled The Gift of Insecurity.
In addition to his public service, Judge Walsh was a leader in the legal profession. He was President of the American Bar Association (1975-1976), President of the New York State Bar Association (1966-1967), and a long-time member of the Council of the American Law Institute.
Judge Walsh was a person of great character, integrity, and devotion to duty. He was demanding of both himself and others, and was never satisfied with less than his best. He was an example for all who knew him.
Judge Walsh is survived by his children, Barbara Marie Walsh, Janet Walsh Larson (Alan Larson), Sara Porter Walsh (Frank Hagel), Dale Edward Walsh, and Elizabeth P. Walsh La Colla (Peter La Colla), as well as by his grandchildren, Winton Emmett, Blaine Wells, Logan Wells, and Megan LaColla-Linquist, and by his great-grandchildren, Tucker Emmett and Madison Emmett. His wife of 47 years, Mary Porter Walsh, died on December 22, 2012.
Memorial Services will be held 2:00pm, Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at First Presbyterian Church of Oklahoma City, and a Memorial Service will be held in New York City at a later date.
Arrangements under the direction of Hahn-Cook/Street & Draper Funeral Directors, Oklahoma City, OK.