- Special Sections
August 3, 1928 â€“ July 17, 2011
Lee M. Hydeman, noted Washington D.C. aviation attorney, died at his home in Sarasota, FL on July 17, 2011. He had cancer.
Lee was born in York, PA on August 3, 1928. He was a graduate of Williams College and the Harvard Law School where he was in the field of nuclear energy. He joined the Atomic Energy Commission under the director of its Chairman, Lewis Strauss, and worked on nuclear reactor safety regulation. He later joined the faculty of the University of Michigan School with his friend, William Berman. Together, they oversaw the Michigan Atomic Energy Research Project and co-authored a book on the regulation of nuclear facilities which is still cited as a valuable source.
Lee returned to Washington, D.C. and entered private law practice, preferring to operate a small firm that reflected his philosophy of independence and the avoidance of bureaucracy. His legal career turned to commercial aviation when, with his partner, Donald Agger, he began representing French aviation manufacturers. In 1966, Lee was approached by Robert F. Six, Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines, who asked Lee to represent Continentalâ€™s interests before the federal government and specifically Continentalâ€™s desire to extend its routes to the Pacific. Lee succeeded in helping Continental expand into the Pacific and remained Continentalâ€™s Washington counsel for the nextÂ 15 years.
Then semi-retired, Lee left his law firm in 1985 and joined the Patton Boggs law firm as counsel. While at Patton Boggs, Lee assisted USAirways in securing approval of its acquisition of Piedmont Airlines in 1987. Later, after he had retired from the active practice of law, Lee was asked to join the board of Reno Air as Chairman. Lee was instrumental in Reno Airâ€™s turnaround which led to its sale to American Airlines in 1999.
Never one to relax, Lee spent the remainder of his life by dividing his time among his ranch near Sonoita, Arizona, his farm in northeastern Vermont and, later, his home in Sarasota, FL. When not home, Lee traveled extensively.
Leeâ€™s first wife, Marisha, died in 2000. Lee is survived by his wife Judith; daughter Karen; son Mark; step-children Alissa Shear, Jennifer and Geoffrey Crooks, and grandchildren Michelle Kassel, Marina Hydeman, Estrela and Sophia Shear.