Attorney remembered for kindness, love of fun

David Kastle had an effect on people. It didn’t matter if he knew them well or not at all. He had an effect. Invariably, it was positive.

“He loved to put a smile on everybody’s face. David was always out there looking for our next best friends,” said his widow, Miriam Dominique Kastle, who married her longtime partner Dec. 26, 2004.

She loved watching when he’d go in to pay for gas. “Within seconds, the cashier and everyone in there would be smiling,” she said.

Attorney David Kastle died Jan. 25. He and his wife, Miriam, were married Dec. 26, 2004.

David Anthony Kastle, 47, died Jan. 25 from complications during heart surgery due to a dissected aorta. The same condition killed actor John Ritter.

An attorney for more than 20 years, he managed a solo law practice in Lynnwood.

In addition to his wife, who remains at their Everett home, he is survived by his son, Jackson, 19; stepchildren Jesse, 21, and Nicole, 15; his parents, Sandra and Howard Kastle, in California; his sister and brother-in-law, Jan and Ian Fellerman, and their sons Joshua and Zachary; and his maternal grandmother, Dorothy.

Hundreds of friends and colleagues joined the family at a celebration of Kastle’s life Feb. 8 at the Everett Events Center. One after another, speakers talked of Kastle’s unfailing smile, kindness and penchant for a good time.

“On behalf of the entire bench, we remember his smile,” said Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne, who said he never heard Kastle utter a bad word about an adversary – or anyone else.

Phyllis Selinker knew Kastle as a volunteer attorney for Snohomish County Legal Services, which provides pro bono legal help in civil cases. Now retired, Selinker is a former director of the agency.

“David was a volunteer for 20 years,” Selinker said. “He’d meet with five or six clients after a full day of work.” Those clients were often involved in divorce or custody issues, or were domestic violence victims. Always, they were hurting.

“Each person would walk in with their head down, no eye contact. After a half-hour with David, they’d come out standing tall and smiling,” Selinker said. Several years ago, Kastle was honored with the agency’s volunteer of the year award.

Dedicated as Kastle was to work, those who knew him well can’t forget the fun.

Marysville attorney Richard Swanson tagged along with Kastle and a group of friends dubbed HIAB, for “hell in a bucket.” Ever a “Deadhead,” Kastle based the name on a Grateful Dead song with the lyrics “I’m going to hell in a bucket, but at least I’m enjoying the ride.”

Ride, they did, on wacky road trips to University of Washington football games, on gambling jaunts to Reno, or adventures to San Francisco. Swanson told of Kastle buying breakfast for a homeless woman named Mary at a nice Los Angeles restaurant during one of their trips.

Swanson said when restaurant management told the lawyers, “She can’t eat here,” Kastle simply said, “She’s with us.”

“That’s the kind of person David was,” Swanson said. He also said Kastle “waited forever to marry his best friend, then got kicked out of his own wedding reception.”

Miriam Kastle explained that during their reception at Lombardi’s Cucina restaurant in Everett, the groom got a little carried away when, instead of following tradition and feeding his new bride cake, he smeared it in her hair and hurled the remains into the unsuspecting crowd.

Family and friends are planning a cake fight in Kastle’s honor the weekend of his birthday, April 22.

Raised in Orange County, Calif., Kastle was student body president at Irvine High School, where he excelled in debate. He attended Yale University and Northwestern University, and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz and from Gonzaga School of Law.

Dr. Glen Lipson, a Southern California psychiatrist, went to high school with Kastle and was a friend for 33 years. “David had a knack for establishing relationships with people,” he said.

The same friend who taught Lipson that when you “streak the school and leave clothes in the car, make sure you leave the car unlocked” also shared spiritual lessons: “Give out of kindness, love justice, show mercy and walk humbly,” Lipson said.

Phil Grabicki was best man at Kastle’s wedding. On a recent trip to New Orleans, Grabicki found a plaque, which he gave to Miriam Kastle. “Life is not measured by its length, but by its depth,” it says.

Lipson believed his friend “had a sense of a foreshortened life.” Swanson said he saw how Kastle lived it: “He realized that life must be lived to the fullest every day.”

“He was a quality person. He was a scholar and a gentleman,” Miriam Kastle said. “With David, I saw forever.”

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