Donald A. Ruston

Donald A. Ruston, 1929 – 2011, Eminent Trial Lawyer

 Donald Allen Ruston of Newport Beach, passed away in Corona Del Mar on April 8, 2011.

Don was born on November 28, 1929 in Globe, Arizona to Ira and Evelyn Mills Ruston. He graduated from Excelsior High School in 1947, and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Pepperdine University in 1951. He acquired his Juris Doctorate from the University of California Los Angeles in 1954, and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1955.

 Don was a tenacious and ethically-inspired litigator, as well as one of the most well-known and respected trial attorneys in Southern California. He was one of the most gifted minds litigating highly contentious lawsuits. Throughout his career, he was known for his big smile and legal prowess. His cross examination skills were legendary, but he always promoted collegiality in his dealings with fellow lawyers. He tried cases throughout Southern California, the United States, as well as the American Protectorate of Guam. Over the years he served as a mentor for many young lawyers who have now gone on to head firms throughout the Southern California metropolitan area.

 He founded a law firm, Ruston and Nance, in Fullerton in the 1960's and led its growth through the next 30 years. In 1974, the firm broke ground on a building in Tustin. Eventually Ruston and Nance became one of the largest leading insurance defense firms in Orange County. Ruston later became affiliated with Lewis, Brisbois and Bisgaard prior to retiring.

 During his career Don was a member and presided over many legal organizations. He helped found the American Board of Trial Advocates and served in 1981 as National President. Was named 1982 Trial Lawyer of the Year and has the rank of Emeritus Diplomat of Orange County Chapter.; Don is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers an international organization of eminent trial attorneys. He has been an active member of the International Society of Barristers, American Inns of Court, International Academy of Trail Lawyers, and Fellow of the American Bar Association. He served as President of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel during 1971 and 1972. In the 1980s Ruston helped found National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) and served on its Board of Trustees, Secretary, and as President. Other organizations included Pepperdine Associates, Founder of UCLA Law, Sportsman of South UCLA, and Phi Alpha Delta.

 His interests included spending time with his family and vacationing at the family compound on the Hood Canal. Don had a private pilot license and flew his own Mooney M20C Ranger. He is survived by his beloved wife, Joyce Nance Ruston, his children Jeane O’Connor, Don Ruston, Terri MacKay and her husband Dan, Karin Nance and her husband William Smith, his sister Joan Thompson and her husband Warren, and his grandchildren Ryan O’Connor, Paige O’Connor, Ian Ruston, Alyssa Ruston, Hannah MacKay, James MacKay, Liam MacKay, Rio Smith and India Rose Smith. He also leaves his “Swedish daughter” Catharina Gerken and her husband Andy, their daughters Annika, Marika, and Isabella, former wife Gloria, several nieces and nephews, and many, many friends and colleagues. Don is predeceased by his parents and sister Linda Plooster.
A Celebration Of Life will be held on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at The Balboa Bay Club, 1221 West Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Don's memory to the NITA Foundation, 1685 38th Street, Suite 200, Boulder,CO 80301, (303)953-6845

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