Obituary: Regis Doubet Murrin / Commercial real estate lawyer, forward thinker

July 2, 1930 -- Dec. 15, 2012

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A native of Butler who oversaw the legal process for client developers during Pittsburgh's second "renaissance," Regis Murrin became a don of commercial real estate law during a career that included service on the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment and as special counsel to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Mr. Murrin, who lived in Point Breeze, died Saturday at Mercy Hospital. He was 82.

After service in the Navy during the 1950s, he received his law degree from Harvard University, where he met Evelyn Alessio, his wife of 53 years.

His daughter, Mary Murrin, described her father as a "common man with uncommon success. He accomplished so much, but what was most important to him was the value of his experiences and the character of the people around him. He was appreciative of the past and believed in the future but he lived in the moment."

And he believed in getting his hands dirty. "It never occurred to him to get a gardener or a power mower. He mowed with a push mower, and we girls would rake and bag the grass. He thought that working hard and having that experience was important."

Before being green was an expression, he exhibited those tendencies. He encouraged his children to collect recyclables and he rode the bus to work every day, she said.

"I think part of the experience of taking the bus reminded him he was a citizen of the world," Ms. Murrin said.

A cigar smoker who was banished from the house before lighting up, he would don his winter coat and Irish cap "and crank up WQED classical music in the car and smoke a cigar," she said.

An advocate of social justice, he marched against the Vietnam War, she said. In the 2008 election, he worked for Protect the Vote, a bipartisan effort to help first-time voters. "They would drive people to the polls," she said.

Patrick Sweeney, a colleague whom Mr. Murrin mentored, began practicing law at Reed Smith in 1988, when Mr. Murrin was a senior lawyer there.

"Rege took particular interest in me because we had many things in common," Mr. Sweeney said. "We had similar views and naturally hit it off. We both went to Notre Dame [University], we both had four daughters and we both married strong, independent women who had their own successful careers."

He described Mr. Murrin as "very forward-thinking" and generous. "He transitioned a large client to me, and that made the difference in my professional career ..."

"He told me that if you're married to your best friend, you will have long, happy marriage. For his daughters, he was a big supporter of increasing possibilities for young women."

"We called him Pappy when the grandchildren came around," said James Lamanna, one of his sons-in-law. "He was a traditional man. We all had to ask for his daughters' hands in marriage, but we were immediately family; we were his sons.

"We had so much fun together. He was one of the fairest men I ever knew and was probably the smartest man I ever knew.

"It would blow my mind when we would vacation in Bethany Beach, I was trying to read one book and he was juggling five and getting them done ahead of my paperback. But as intellectual as he was, whether it was over a drink at the [Harvard-Yale-Princeton] Club or in summer basketball league with a shot and beer on the South Side, he could talk to anybody about anything."

Mr. Murrin's legal career began in his family's firm in Butler. During the administration of President John F. Kennedy, he worked in the Philadelphia office of what is now the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. While in Philadelphia, he earned a master's degree in law from Temple University.

In Pittsburgh in 1964, he joined the Baskin Firm and became a partner. Among his clients were the developers of PPG Place, Liberty Place, One Mellon Bank, Oakland Plaza and the Pittsburgh Technology Center. At Reed Smith, he was head of the real estate department. He served on the zoning board from 1993 until 2006.

In his retirement, he led classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He was on the boards of Horizon Homes, the Ellis School and the Shadyside Presbyterian Church Nursery School. He was a member of the St. Paul Cathedral Choir and the St. Bede Choir.

Mr. Murrin is survived by his wife and four daughters -- Catherine Hargenrader of Oak Hill, Va.; Mary of Point Breeze; Elizabeth Talotta of Arlington, Va.; and Becky Lamanna of Wexford.

Viewing is at Freyvogel Funeral Home, 4900 Centre Ave., from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today. Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Bede Church in Point Breeze. He will be buried at Calvary Cemetery in Butler.

obituaries

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626.


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