It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Edwin L. Doernberger on Friday, May 21.
Ed quietly battled cancer for more than a year, choosing to go about his life much in the same way he always had. It was his desire to do the work he loved for over four decades for as long as he had the strength. He did exactly that, joining the weekly partner Zoom meeting just the day before he passed.
A brilliant attorney and a tenacious litigator, Ed took great pleasure in the intellectual challenge of working through difficult and abstract issues. Over the years, he handled over 70 trials and his practice took him before the Connecticut and Hawaii Supreme and Appellate Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals, with successful arguments in several high-profile matters. Not surprisingly, Ed has been selected as a New England Super Lawyer each year since 2013.
Ed joined SDV in 2001 and served as its Managing Partner until 2016. He remained on its Executive Committee and was actively involved in firm administration to the very end. But Ed’s favorite role in the firm was to guide and mentor young attorneys, and his efforts earned him Connecticut Law Tribune’s 2020 Legal Award for Best Mentor. An exceptional man of quiet dignity and kindness, Ed was a perpetual favorite of the lawyers and staff alike. His loss leaves a tremendous void, both personally and professionally, and SDV will never be the same without him.
In addition to the law, Ed also loved athletics. He was raised surfing Long Island’s south shore, and he later frequented Sunset Beach in Hawaii’s nascent surf boom. He captained the Columbia University Track & Field team, and his ‘66 hammer throw remains third on Columbia’s record books. Ed also placed third at the 1969 U.S. Track & Field Championships, nearly earning a place on the U.S. Olympic team. He turned to competitive outrigger canoe racing while living in Hawaii in the ‘70s and was a repeat victor in the sport’s de facto world championship, the Molokai Hoe, in 1970 and 1971. Ed ran throughout his early adulthood, but when his hips finally gave in, he switched to cycling. He biked over twenty thousand miles in 7 years, nearly enough to circumnavigate the globe, and left his children pedaling furiously towards the back of his cycling jersey on cycling vacations in Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary.
Most of all, Ed loved his family and is survived by his son, Ian; daughter, Jessie and her wife, Erin; and son, Jeremy and his fiancée, Julia.
A sign on the wall in Ed’s office sums up a life well-lived: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly worn out and screaming ‘Woo Hoo, What a Ride!’.”
An informal outdoor service will take place on Thursday, May 27th, at his home at 8 Pine Ridge Road, Woodbridge, CT at 3 p.m. Attire is casual, as he would have wanted. Anyone who knew Ed knew he never wore a tie unless he absolutely had to, and frequently wore his Hawaiian shirts regardless of whether it was 80 degrees or 10 below zero. Attendees are encouraged to consider wearing a Hawaiian shirt in his memory.
Memorial Donations may be made to the Rails to Trails Conservancy or to WNPR Public Radio.
To watch the memorial for Ed, click here.