Friends now Famous but Football Team Lost all Games in ’47 Season

Maynard Ungerman chose to attend Stanford Law School near Palo Alto, Calif., in 1947. The avid football fan felt he would see some of the best games in college sports.

Ungerman, at 120 pounds, was too small to play and that football season was a disaster — the team lost every game, including one to their arch rival, University of Southern California — Berkeley.

Despite that lackluster grid season, Ungerman formed life-long friendships with classmates that would make a profound mark on American.

He called one friend Bill, another Sandy and a third, Phil.

Phil was Phil Nielsen whose father founded the Nielsen Ratings program.

Bill was William R. Rehnquist who became the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sandy, also known as Sandy Day, is retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Ungerman values these and other friendships that he has developed during his law practice in Tulsa.

During his career, Ungerman came to know many people.

One was Peter Malkin — Zvi Malchin — the Israeli agent who captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires.

He recalls with fondness his college days when most students — except Nielsen — would fly home during break.

Nielsen would have the family yacht pick him up and take him where he wanted to go.

‘‘I got to know Rehnquist who had just come back from the service,’’ Ungerman continued. ‘‘He was a dorm counselor at the college in 1947.

‘‘Sandy and I worked together on the law review. She was my review editor — and she was dating Rehnquist at that time.’’

The trio saw a great deal of each other and were friendly, except when it came to politics.

Rehnquist at that time was a firm believer in the government as a ‘‘benevolent dictatorship,’’ Ungerman continued. He (Rehnquist) ultimately became very friendly with President Richard Nixon.

Sandy Day, who later married John O’Connor, didn’t argue much with the group. But her family, with extensive land holdings in Arizona and New Mexico, had a strong Republican background and was very friendly with Sen. Barry Goldwater.

When Ungerman completed law school, he, Rehnquist and Don Lundgren came to Tulsa looking for jobs.

They applied with the Ungerman law firm headed by Irvine E. Ungerman, Maynard’s father, who hired Lundgren.

The other applicant went elsewhere looking for employment because the senior Ungerman ‘‘didn’t think Rehnquist would make it in Tulsa.’’

Later, at the dedication of the University of Tulsa College of Law facility and as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Rehnquest would comment that Tulsa was the only place where he ever was turned down for a job.

Ungerman who finished law school at Stanford in December, 1952, passed the Oklahoma Bar exam in early 1953 on his first try.

He thought he was in trouble when he saw some of the questions, especially on Indian law and real estate.

He calls his early days in law practice in Tulsa ‘‘weird’’ and considers them wild times.

At that time his father was involved in defending Tulsa’s police chief on a conspiracy case.

The police commissioner, three members of the vice squad and a Tulsa Tribune reporter also were indicted.

The reporter was dropped from the case before it went to trial, but the police officials were charged and went to trial in federal court.

Hayden Crawford was the U.S. Attorney trying the case, Ungerman said. There were about 10 other defense attorneys involved.

The case had political overtones because Crawford was planning to run for governor. There were so many top defense lawyers involved the situation became difficult because there was no coordinated defense.

It got even more complicated when a Tulsa World reporter was assigned to get a picture of the police chief, Ungerman continued. This was an old time chief who told the reporter that if he did take the picture, he (the chief who was carrying a weapon) would ‘‘blow his head off.’’

In those days there were no rules restricting weapons in the Federal Building, he said. The reporter went back to the newspaper and told his editor what happened and that he didn’t want to get shot.

Another reporter was assigned to get the photo.

As he started to take the picture, the chief drew his gun. The picture was published.

‘‘Dad told the chief that he couldn’t do things like that in the Federal Building,’’ Ungerman said. The police chief eventually was convicted of conspiracy.

Courtrooms also became classrooms during those days.

‘‘We had great orators arguing cases,’’ Ungerman said. It was not uncommon to see other lawyers coming to the courtroom to hear closing arguments of opposing attorneys because they were so good.

Times have changed the legal practice, he continued. So much has gone to paperwork that many oral arguments no longer are heard. This is especially true in the civil cases where issues are settled in conference committees.

Ungerman said that attorney fee schedules also have dramatically changed the practice of law. Today lawyers must justify fees for as little as 1/10th or of 1/4 of an hour.

More and more there is client dissatisfaction about legal services.

Lawyers get a bad rap and unfortunately that sometimes is deserved, Ungerman continued.

He said he felt that a big part of the problem involved extensive advertising programs. Lawyers want to get the message out about their practices and sometimes that effort is misinterpreted.

One part of the legal practice that receives little or no press is that lawyers are seldom recognized for their pro bono work.

Attorneys serve on many non profit boards and at times there have been jokes that more lawyers are found on these boards than other occupations.

Ungerman himself has served on a variety of the Tulsa nonprofit boards including Community Service Council, Day Center Task Force, Neighbor For Neighbor, the Indian Health Services board and Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry.

It is not unheard of in the non profit world that lawyers dedicate a lot of time and services to these groups, he added.

While Ungerman spent three years in the U.S. Air Force toward the end of the Korean War, he did not go to that country until about three or four years ago.

He was involved in settling a dispute between an American and Korean company.

As his own practice developed, Ungerman would be representing labor unions, often opposite J. Howard Edmondson.

It was Edmondson who influenced Ungerman’s involvement in politics.

The Tulsa attorney would support Fred Harris who unseated Edmondson in the U.S. Senate race.

Edmondson resigned his governor’s job to be appointed to the senate post created by the death of U.S. Sen. Robert S. Kerr in 1963.

It was Ungerman’s dad who was a good friend with David Hall.

Hall, as governor, appointed the senior Ungerman as Chairman of the Oklahoma Board of Corrections.

When the riots occurred in 1973, ‘‘dad was the chief negotiator that got the hostages held by the prisoners freed,’’ Ungerman said. He got a lot of help, some of it coming from men serving terms that he had defended in court.

Those were colorful times with David Hall, he continued.

Reflecting on his career, Ungerman noted that his work with labor unions gave him a perspective that would enable him to look on both sides of disputes.

‘‘I did a lot of work — and still do — for the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association,’’ he said. ‘‘I was involved with the TCTA before they became part of the Oklahoma Education Association.’’

He also was involved in asbestos litigation and is hopeful that cases soon will be closed. Many are in bankruptcy court.

‘‘There have been many challenges during my career,’’ he said. ‘‘One shouldn’t have time to get bored.’’

One challenge involved the Burroughs Little School.

The Tulsa Public School board told a group of people that if they could create a situation that would include an equal number of students from north and south Tulsa residents, they would look at integrating the local school system.

‘‘I was co-chair with Bonnie Luce,’’ Ungerman continued. ‘‘She and I worked on developing programs and getting people together.’’

Luce worked on the educational aspect of the project, and with the support of others, including Nancy Feldman and Nancy McDonald, met the deadline.

Because of that, the Tulsa Public School board created what today is known as the magnet system.

Ungerman still is an avid football fan and he continues to follow his alma mater.

Stanford’s football team improved dramatically after that 1947 season and that young student also fulfilled that part of his goal — seeing quality gridiron competition.

Stanford’s football team improved dramatically after that 1947 season and that young student also fulfilled that part of his goal — seeing quality gridiron competition.



Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?