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Retired Attorney’s Influence Continuing to Benefit Thousands

walllA prominent former Flagstaff attorney and community leader, Doug Wall, is still widely known in the greater Flagstaff area even though he retired and now lives in Prescott Valley.

Wall is also one of the most honored people who has roots in Flagstaff.

Most recently, he was recognized by Northern Arizona University President Rita Cheng for “…many years of service to NAU and later, as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) for his unwavering support of and contributions to higher education.”

Wall served on ABOR from 1988 to 1996.

The NAU honor took the form of branding the new 120,000-square-foot aquatic center and tennis complex as the Douglas J. Wall Aquatic Center, which formally opened on Feb. 22.

Cheng introduced Wall, a former Flagstaff resident, to the crowd of hundreds at the grand opening.

Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours later praised Wall, saying, “When I graduated from law school, I went to work for Doug [at Magnum, Wall, Stoops and Warden PLLC]. He was my mentor. I knew nothing about the actual practice of law, but I learned very quickly from Doug that nothing is more important than the best interest of your client. Whoever had Doug as his attorney had a champion on his side.”

Born in Denver, Colorado, but growing up in Iola, Kansas, Wall moved to Arizona in 1955. He became a lead attorney for Magnum, Wall, Stoops and Warden PLLC in the late 1950s until his retirement. He also served as the attorney and an associate professor for Northern Arizona University from 1963 until 1993.

Former NAU President Eugene M. Hughes, now retired and living in Flagstaff, acknowledges Wall’s influence.

“Doug is one of the brightest lawyers I’ve ever known. As an ABOR member, he was a friend of students as he championed the Arizona Constitution and its provision of keeping higher education tuition ‘as nearly free as possible.’”

“More important, personally, he is the best friend a person could have. He has been like a brother to me for over 45 years.” Hughes said.

Bruce Nordstrom, owner of Nordstrom and Associates Accounting in Flagstaff, echoes Hughes.

“Doug has been my friend and mentor for 30 years. I was fortunate in serving with him on the University of Arizona University Medical Center board of directors. I was then lucky to follow Doug on the Pinnacle West board. Doug is one of those rare people that everyone can count on for trustworthy advice and counsel.”

 

Wall’s Influence Extends Far Beyond Flagstaff

Had it not been for Wall’s legal negotiations and salesmanship, it is not likely that two higher education institutions would exist in Prescott.

In the mid-1960s, one of Wall’s Flagstaff clients, Dick Wilson, became interested in helping the founders of Prescott College create a liberal arts institution on 200 acres on the northwest edge of the community. Wilson came from a wealthy Texas oil family. He loaned the college money to acquire and build the campus. But in 1974, the college went bankrupt.

Wilson put Wall to work again, with the admonition, “Sell the property, but only to a legitimate educational institution.”

Wall traveled the country, talking to prospective clients. The winning buyer was Jack Hunt, then president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Wall negotiated the contract with ERAU trustees. The result was that during the fall of 1978, ERAU-Prescott opened its doors to 264 students. This fall, the western campus will have an enrollment approaching 2,400 and a continuing reputation as the nation’s leading aviation and aeronautical university.

Wall served on the ERAU board of trustees for several years.

 

Wall Exerted Statewide Educational, Economic Influence

Testimony to the value of Wall’s influence is best illustrated by citing a few of the major statewide directorships and boards on which he served.

  • Arizona Interstate Stream Commission (now the Arizona Water Commission)
  • Bank of Northern Arizona (now National Bank of Arizona)
  • Arizona Public Service (APS)
  • Pinnacle West Capital Corporation (SunCor Development Corp)
  • Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation
  • Yavapai College Foundation
  • Yavapai County Education Foundation
  • University of Arizona Medical Center Foundation (UMC)

In 2006, the UofA dedicated the Staff Pavilion in the Cancer Center to Wall because of his service to the University Medical Center.

Scottsdale psychologist Jamie Manovich served on the UMC board with Wall. “He has one of the most incisive minds I’ve seen. Better yet, he’s a lot of fun,” she said.

 

Living the Good Life as a Retiree

Wall and his wife, Marilyn, are fully retired and live in a thriving Stoneridge golf course community in Prescott Valley. Though he has had some health issues lately – “Hell, I’ll be 89 on April 1,” he says – the Walls often see their 10 grandchildren and six children from their blended family.

Sitting on their patio overlooking the No. 8 fairway at the golf course, Doug, coached by Marilyn, thoughtfully shared some of his observations.

 

What character traits do you value in professional or business associates?

Honesty and integrity. Though it’s sometimes painful, a person must be sincere and straightforward.”

What’s the best advice you ever received?

A long answer, but true. After I was discharged from the Navy, I enrolled and later graduated from Kansas University in 1950. I went to work in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for the Phillips Petroleum company. While there, I took over as the swimming coach for the Phillips-sponsored team. One late afternoon, in the locker room after practice, a guy who had become a good friend told me to sit down. He wanted to talk to me. I won’t forget him – Ernie, the custodian – he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Mr. Wall, I don’t wanna hurt your feelings, but why don’t you quit this job and go make something out of yourself?’

“Know what? I did quit. I returned to Kansas University in 1953 and enrolled in law school. Know what else? I was the swimming coach at KU while in law school.”

Who do you admire and why?

“Two people, really. One was George Sauer, the Jayhawk football coach who taught me to play ‘til the end of the game, no matter what the score. The other? My mother’s brother, Ross Jones, who had moved to Arizona and became attorney general. After I got my law degree, Ross urged me to move to Arizona. I did. I learned from him how important it was to be absolutely honest, no matter what the consequences.”

What book would you recommend to others?

“No doubt there – “The Greatest Generation,” by Tom Brokaw. He wrote eloquently about those who survived the poverty of the Depression, suffered through World War II, and went on to build America into the greatest nation in the world. That’s my generation, and I’m proud of it.”

Where is your favorite place to travel?

“The mountain country of the San Juans in Colorado – no place like it. For more than 11 years, Marilyn and I have spent our summers at an RV resort called Priest’s Gulch on the Delores River. The stream, the fishing, the climate and most of all, the friends we have there – unforgettable.”

By Ray Newton, FBN

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