Mitchell S. Rieger has died
Mitchell S. Rieger, 85, of Chicago and Vail, died July 27 in a Denver hospital after suffering a stroke in his home in Vail.
A former assistant U.S. attorney and a longtime partner with the Chicago firm of Schiff Hardin, Mr. Rieger was also an avid photographer.
The son of an attorney, Mr. Rieger grew up in Evanston, Ill., graduated first in his class with a degree in economics from Northwestern University in 1944, and was immediately commissioned as a Navy lieutenant and shipped to the Pacific.
When the war ended, he volunteered for duty on a ship that wound its way through Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe before docking in Charleston, S.C. During what he called “the trip of a lifetime,” he began taking photographs with a camera he bought in Shanghai ” thus was born a lifetime passion for travel and photography.
After the war, Mr. Rieger got his law degree from Harvard University and in 1954, he joined the U.S. attorney’s office, serving as chief of the tax and criminal divisions before becoming first assistant in 1958.
In 1961, he joined Schiff Hardin, where he specialized in insurance securities and futures litigation. His stature as a former federal prosecutor greatly boosted the profile of the firm’s litigation practice, said Ron Safer, Schiff Hardin’s managing partner.
“He was a giant in the firm,” Safer said. “His strength was his ability to communicate complex concepts with a very common man’s touch.”
Still a partner at the time of his death, Mr. Rieger most recently screened incoming legal matters for conflicts with new and existing clients. The task of balancing interests among partners requires a diplomat’s finesse, and the job was well suited to a low-key and widely respected elder statesman like Mr. Rieger, Safer said.
Mr. Rieger and Pearl, his beloved wife of 35 years, first began visiting Vail in the early 1970s, and bought a home in East Vail approximately 21 years ago. Both were enthusiastic skiers, and at the end of every day on the slopes, Mr. Rieger was known to exclaim that he had had a “breakthrough” that day.
Although he had to stop skiing about three years ago, he continued to love the time he spent in Vail. The day before he died, he and his wife and some friends rode the gondola up to Eagle’s Nest where they enjoyed a picnic lunch. That evening they attended a wonderful concert by the New York Philharmonic at the Ford Amphitheater, and before bed, Mr. Rieger told Pearl that it had been a “perfect day.”
When he wasn’t skiing, Mr. Rieger had many other interests, but his first passion was taking photographs. He attended photography classes in Vail and was thrilled to have two shows of his work at different venues in Vail.
Last year, he published a compendium of his best work, “Faces and Places: 68 Years of Photography.” He signed copies of the book at Fusion in December.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Rieger is survived by a daughter, two stepsons, five stepdaughters and 18 grandchildren.