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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Prominent Hawai'i attorney J. Russell Cades dies at 97

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

J. Russell Cades, former partner of the law firm Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright and one of the most influential attorneys in Hawai'i, died Saturday at his Tantalus home. He was 97.

Senior partner recalls Cades was top attorney in town after World War II.

Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright

Cades graduated at the top of his class at the University of Pennsylvania in 1928. A year later he moved to Hawai'i and joined the firm Smith & Wild.

Specializing in corporate and tax law, Cades made an immediate impact in Hawai'i. During World War II he represented hundreds of firms that did business with the U.S. Army and Army Corps of Engineers.

"He is probably as responsible as anyone for the development of the law here in the state of Hawai'i through the '40s, '50s, '60s and even the '70s," said attorney Jeff Portnoy, a member of the Cades firm. "There's only a handful of people who have been prominent in the Hawai'i legal establishment in the last century, and he's certainly in the top of that group."

E. Gunner Schull, who joined the firm in 1964 as a young attorney and is now a senior partner, said Cades had built up an impressive list of corporate clients by the time the war ended, and was acknowledged as the top attorney in town.

"He was just a very generous person and a delight to work for, and a perfect gentleman in all respects, in addition to having a very keen legal mind," Schull said. "His influence on a lot of the members of the firm who are my age was pervasive."

Cades was born in Philadelphia on Oct. 30, 1904. He received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1928 and served a fellowship in corporation law before coming to Hawai'i.

He planned to join a New York law firm, but was talked into giving the Islands a one-year tryout by attorney Urban Wild. That year did not end until his death last weekend.

"When he stopped coming to the office (18 months ago), the office went to him," Schull said. "He maintained an interest in the firm literally until the time of his death."

Law was not Cades' only interest. He also was an accomplished musician, playing the viola and violin with the Honolulu Symphony for more than 30 years. He also led the fight to build what is now the Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Cades served on the boards of many Hawai'i companies, including Amfac, Hawaiian Life Insurance and Universal Motors, and was a member of the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents, director of the Honolulu Art Society, trustee of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and director of the Contemporary Art Center. In 1978 Gov. George Ariyoshi presented him with the Order of Distinction for Cultural Leadership

Portnoy, who specializes in First Amendment law, credited Cades with leading him in that direction.

"He was a true civil libertarian — believed in free speech and free press and fought for it for decades," Portnoy said. "Russell's knowledge of the Constitution was without peer in the state of Hawai'i."

Cades is survived by his wife, Charlotte; son, Russell McLean; brother, Daniel; and sisters Zelda David, Libby Levenson and Lillian Waldman.

Services are pending. Donations may be made to: The Cades Foundation, P.O. Box 939, Honolulu, HI 96808; The Honolulu Symphony Society; The Contemporary Museum; or The Honolulu Academy of Arts.