We are saddened to lose Don. M. Stichter, one of the founders and the first president of the TBBBA, who suffered a fatal heart attack while- typical of Don and in true Navy Seal (UDT) tradition – swimming laps on January 19, 2019.
Don was widely recognized as one of the finest lawyers in the State of Florida, and he practiced law not only with excellence but also with the highest degree of professionalism. A 2005 Cramdown article authored by Tim Corcoran referred to him as the “Dean” of the Tampa bankruptcy bar.
Don always maintained his keen sense of humor and remained unflappable and calm during the legal firestorms that attend his busy, high-stakes practice. He was a skilled trial lawyer and tried many high profile cases while acting as chief of the United States Attorneys Office in Tampa. He then went into private practice and handled virtually every type of case, ranging from divorces to probates to writing title insurance to civil litigation to traffic court to forming corporations, while finding time to serve as the President of the Hillsborough County Bar Association.
He began to specialize in bankruptcy cases in 1979 and handled all varieties of cases during the 1980s until the end of the decade, when he filed the $3 billion Hillsborough Holdings case and thereafter was primarily involved in large chapter 11 cases. Don was the first recipient of the McClurg Award, the highest honor of the TBBBA. In 1992, Don became one of the first three lawyers in Florida to be selected as a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy. In 2002, he was named the outstanding lawyer for that year by the Hillsborough County Bar Association and in 2015 became the second recipient of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Award, which was presented by Judges Williamson and McEwen based upon his consistent demonstration of “honesty, integrity, fairness, courtesy, and . . . professionalism.”
Don founded Stichter & Riedel, P.A., now Stichter, Riedel, Blain and Postler, P.A., in 1974 and managed or co-managed the firm for more than forty years. One of his sons, Scott, a partner in SRBP, also served as president of the TBBBA – the only father-son duo in TBBBA history. Don’s legal skill resulted in his being listed in numerous peer review ratings services, including Best Lawyers in America, Chambers Leading Lawyers for Business, Super Lawyers, Who’s Who in Insolvency Law, Expert Guides, Florida Trend Magazine’s listing of Florida Legal Elite, and Martindale Hubbell (AV).
He was deeply committed to the pro bono delivery of legal services to the needy and served in various capacities on the board of Bay Area Legal Services, which honored him as the fourth recipient of its highest award, the Judge Don Castor Award, in 2012. His example and guidance were instrumental in the Florida Supreme Court’s selection of the firm in 2014 as the outstanding firm in the state for its contributions to the delivery of legal services to the poor. The high level of professionalism in the bankruptcy bar in the Tampa Bay area is a direct legacy of Don’s career and example.
A memorial service will be held at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church at 10:30 a.m. on January 30, 2019.