Gonzaga Law recently lost a treasured alum. Thomas “Jerry” Greenan, who passed away this past January, was truly a leader who made a difference. Jerry’s unique life and professional story have been an inspiration to many at Gonzaga.
Living The Jesuit Ethic
When Jerry first considered higher education, Gonzaga University was barely a blip on his radar screen. His father had recently died, and money was tight. But Fathers Francis Gubbins, S.J., and Frank Harrington, S.J., passed through Montana in 1951, meeting potential students who had applied for admission, and the University offered him a partial scholarship.
These and other Jesuits who Jerry Greenan, his wife Helen (Shepard) and their five children have encountered over the past 58 years have inspired the Greenan family to serve others with care and compassion. The Jesuit ideals and ethics he learned while a student at Gonzaga have strongly influenced his practice of law. When opportunities to give of themselves arose, Jerry and Helen have time and time again responded, without hesitation. Over the years they have given most generously of their time, their resources, and their love to alma mater.
A Distinguished Legal Career
Right after passing the bar exam Mr. Greenan worked for the Washington State Attorney General’s office as an assistant attorney general, assigned to the highway department. In 1963, he joined a private law practice in Seattle and began a career litigating antitrust actions in federal and state courts throughout the United States. For the next forty-five years he would hone his skills, adding litigation of intellectual property actions, involving matters such as alleged theft of trade secrets and the alleged infringement of patents and copyrights. He argued several cases before the United States Supreme Court.
In 1979, Greenan was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers, a distinction limited to those trial attorneys considered the best in their state or province who have exhibited high ethical and moral standards, professionalism and excellent character. Mr. Greenan served on the American College’s Board of Regents as a national officer and a member of its executive committee.
He was listed in the Business Litigation Section of each edition of the publication “The Best Lawyers in America” for the past twenty-two years. He chaired various sections, board, and committees of the Washington State Bar Association, including the Antitrust, Consumer Protection, and Unfair Business Practices section, the Disciplinary Board, and the Character and Fitness Committee. He was past president of the Federal Bar Association of the Western District of Washington and argued many cases in state and federal appellate courts throughout the country, including before the United States Supreme Court. One of Jerry’s most notable cases was the 2003 class action where he represented several seafood processors and importers against 4,500 Alaska fishermen. The seafood companies were accused of fixing prices on Alaska salmon over a several year period. Jerry prevailed, saving the seafood companies millions.
A Lifetime Of Service To Gonzaga
Mr. Greenan’s many contributions have not, however, been limited to his extensive service of the law. He served on Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees for 20 years, including two years as chair. He was elected Trustee Emeritus in 2004, and remained active on a number of the Board’s committees. He also served on the School of Law Board of Advisors. In addition, both Jerry and Helen Greenan, were, for many years, deeply involved in the Gonzaga-in-Florence program. They were instrumental in the acquisition of the beautiful academic facility on Via Giorgio La Pira, located across from the Botanical Gardens and now owned by the university. He taught business law, comparative law, and antitrust courses there, and served both as assistant to the Dean, and as acting Dean and Director of the Florence program.
Through all of his professional pursuits he and Helen always maintained their love affair with their University. In 2009, Gonzaga University recognized its distinguished alumnus and bestowed upon its son, Thomas J. Greenan, the Law Medal, which is reserved for those individuals who have provided exceptional service to the law and the legal system; and with it came the University’s profound thanks for his many and varied contributions to this alma mater and for the sterling example of a life well-lived in generous service to others.
Jerry loved nothing better than spending an afternoon with is family watching Gonzaga basketball and an evening dinner celebrating a big win. Jerry always expected a long Gonzaga run by the basketball teams in the post season tournaments. Jerry Greenan was truly a lifelong Zag and will be forever remembered as what it means to be a Gonzaga Lawyer.