Lawyer Charles R. "Dick" Volk's distinguished career included an appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court, where he defended The Pittsburgh Press' practice of running separate help-wanted classified advertisements for men and women.
The 1973 case, sparked by a Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations ruling that the practice violated a city ordinance, turned on whether the newspaper was discriminating or exercising its First Amendment rights.
"He was always proud to say he lost, but that it was a 5-4 decision," said his wife, Jane.
Mr. Volk, who represented The Press, Dravo, Koppers, Westinghouse and other employers during his long career, died Thursday at UPMC Presbyterian. He was 83.
Mrs. Volk said her husband had suffered from seizures and other health problems. He had lived at UPMC Cranberry Place for five years.
The son of a millworker, Mr. Volk grew up in McKeesport, where he developed a fascination with the firehouse down the street. Mrs. Volk said her husband recalled being spanked by his father as a very young boy for violating his orders not to visit the fire department on his own.
As a teenager, Mr. Volk started a junior volunteer fire department in White Oak. He later served on volunteer departments in Green Tree and Aleppo.
"His first love may have not been the law. It may have been the volunteer fire department," said David Robertson, who joined Mr. Volk in opening a law firm in 1985.
Mr. Robertson, who recalled Mr. Volk taking a break from a client meeting to track the movement of fire engines, said his mentor "was one of the lions of labor law on the management side."
Mr. Volk graduated from McKeesport High School and earned an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh, where he served in the ROTC.
Upon graduation, he joined the Air Force as an intelligence officer, debriefing bomber pilots after their missions during the Korean War. He was discharged in 1953 and earned a law degree from Pitt.
Mr. Volk was a labor relations attorney for Westinghouse and at Thorp Reed & Armstrong before starting a firm with Mr. Robertson.
"I had tremendous respect for him. I considered him my strongest adversary," said Ernest Orsatti, whose clients included the newspaper unions.
During the newspaper strike of 1992, Mr. Orsatti prevailed when Mr. Volk, representing The Press, tried to obtain a court injunction to stop mass picketing of the paper.
"I consider him the best management labor lawyer I ever came across," Mr. Orsatti said. "He was a strong advocate for his position, but he did it with honesty and integrity."
Gerald Kobell, the retired former regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, remembered Mr. Volk as "a straight shooter."
"He was always regarded as fair," Mr. Kobell said. "He didn't try to over-argue his case."
Mrs. Volk said her husband of 28 years served as president of the Rosslyn Farms Borough Council, was an avid bird hunter and skier and loved reading and the symphony.
"He combined the rough outdoorsman with culture," she said.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Volk is survived by sons Christopher of Boise, Idaho, William and David, both of Sewickley, and Timothy of St. Charles, Mo.; daughters Amy Tahan of San Diego, Calif., and Mary of Chicago; and seven grandchildren. He also is survived by his first wife, Barbara Johnston.
A blessing service will be held at 12:30 p.m. today at St. James Catholic Church, 200 Walnut St., Sewickley. Mr. Volk will be buried at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil.
Len Boselovic: email@example.com or 412-263-1941.