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In Memory of Myron “Doc” Etienne (1924 – 2016)

Doc Etienne passed away September 10, 2016 at the age of 92.  Doc retired from the active practice of law in his mid 80s.  Born May 19, 1924 in Pasadena, Doc attended the Merchant Marine Academy during World War II and circled the world several times on his Merchant Marine voyages.  Doc attended U.C. Berkeley after the war, and earned a law degree in 1952 from Hastings College of Law.  After graduation, he clerked for one year at the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco.  He came to Salinas in 1954 and worked for the District Attorney’s Office for a year.  He began working with Harry Noland and Paul Hamerly in 1955, for the firm that today bears his name — Noland, Hamerly, Etienne & Hoss.

Doc had a zest for life and vigor that was much admired even into his later years.  Around the office, his colleagues often commented to each other: “If I have half the energy Doc has when I am his age, I will feel truly blessed.”  Doc was a dynamo, both in the legal arena and as a person.

 As a lawyer, Doc represented many clients in both the Salinas Valley and on the Monterey Peninsula.  He was one of the great litigators of Monterey County.  He was an amazingly quick study and read people really well.  He had the unique ability to know exactly how far he could push a witness on the stand.  His persuasive abilities were legendary and he often achieved the result he wanted with gentle humor and good will.  His demeanor in court and with other attorneys was kind, courteous and professional.  In this modern age where civility among attorneys is often an issue, we should look to practitioners like Doc and take a lesson:  treat everyone with respect, listen more than you talk and above all, know the law that supports your legal position.

Doc is remembered by his firm as not simply a great lawyer and partner; he was a great man.  He was exceedingly kind, gracious, and a lot of fun to be around.  We suspect that not a week goes by without one of us using Doc’s advice, guidance, or wisdom.  Doc was a brilliant attorney who set the tone of collegiality that makes the firm such a great place to work.  He was always the consummate gentlemen, even to opposing counsel or parties.

Doc had many friends up and down the Valley.  Community service was part and parcel of Doc’s being and ethic.  He drilled in to each of the lawyers in the firm that it was not enough to practice law well, you also had to contribute to the community in which we lived.  A complete listing of Doc’s community involvement over the years would exceed our space, so here are just a few of the community organizations that benefited from Doc’s involvement:  the Monterey Jazz Festival (he was a founder and once a co-owner of the Pacific Biological Laboratories, where Doc Ricketts of Steinbeck fame ran his marine collecting business, and where the idea for the Monterey Jazz Festival was born); director of the California Rodeo; the California Cattlemen’s Association, Rancheros Vistadores, Friends of Historic San Antonio Mission (founder).  He also received the national Jefferson Award in 2005 for his long history of community service. 

Doc’s professionalism, courtesy and legal expertise set the standard by which we practice law today. Doc was not simply a great lawyer, he was a remarkable person and a great friend. His contributions to the legal profession and the community at large are unmatched. We miss his wise counsel and zest for life.

A fund has been established in Doc’s memory at the Monterey Jazz Festival to support the Monterey County All Star Band and Vocal Group, which is part of the Festival’s young musician’s education program.

© 2016 Noland, Hamerly, Etienne & Hoss