This In Remembrance section lists WSBA members by Bar number and date of death. The list is not complete and contains only those notices of which the WSBA has learned through correspondence from members. When available, obituaries are linked below.
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Donald Madsen was a leader and a powerhouse in the legal community. He was known and admired for his skills as an attorney and his deep commitment to his clients.
He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1953 and took pride in the fact that he shared a birthplace with Malcolm X. Donald’s family relocated to Las Vegas when he was 8. There he developed a deep bond with his siblings—his late older brother John, younger sister Kathy, and late youngest sister Kim—through a devotion to family and hard work.
With his mother’s encouragement, and financial help from his Aunt Ethel, Donald eventually left Las Vegas to attend college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. However, his time was cut short when his mother passed away during his sophomore year and he returned to Las Vegas to finish school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Donald’s love of Perry Mason, and a strong desire to help others, led him to the next big step in his life—to become an attorney. He worked his way through law school in Sacramento selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door, and did the same after moving to Seattle while he searched for a job in the legal field. In 1979, Donald knocked on the door of Irving Paul, the organizer of the Associated Council of the Accused (ACA). Despite having no job openings, Irving offered Donald a job on the spot.
His first day at the ACA marked the beginning of his career, and even more importantly the first time he met the love of his life, Barbara, who would become his wife of 41 years. Donald worked at the ACA until his retirement in 2015 and served as the organization’s director for seven years.
In 2013, the WSBA awarded Donald its Lifetime Service Award, one of its highest honors. A video created for the event includes footage of him talking in his no-nonsense style about why he became a public defender: “I’ve always had a desire to help out others and to help people in trouble and to help the underdog,” he said. “Clients have very little power,” he added. “That’s what motivates me.”
Donald loved going to trial and was often described as a blond, six-foot-seven-inch Abe Lincoln. In addition to his job, Donald was an avid golfer. Barbara and Donald had four children, Sam, Hillary, Eleanor, and Beau; and three grandchildren, Levi, Paris, and Clare.
Donald passed away on June 30, 2022, after battling ALS for several years.
Robert Adelman, #9084, 6/25/2022
Tom Austin Alberg, #200, 8/5/2022
Christopher Bates, #37705, 2/28/2022
Brian Budsberg, #11225, 7/9/2022
Timothy Clifford, #2454, 6/27/2022
John Craddock Coart III, #2165, 5/1/2022
Lori Ferguson, #29018, 7/12/2022
Wayne W. Hansen, #8912, 6/12/2022
Llewellyn Matthews, #9535, 6/16/2022
Kellie Nielsen, #45890, 6/12/2022
John Polk, #33720, 5/1/2022
Thomas Michael Roberts, #14706, 7/22/2022
Jeffrey Wishko, #12885, 6/15/2022
Angela Wong, #22471, 6/10/2022