Noreen McGraw

7 marzo , 193231 mayo , 2021

Noreen Kelly (Saltveit) McGraw, daughter of Judge Edward C. Kelly, and Mary G. Kelly, died May 31, 2021. A pioneering woman trial attorney, she was born in Medford, Oregon on March 7, 1932 and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1955, the only woman in her class. She married Carl Saltveit, of Portland in 1960 and together they had four children. They divorced in 1993, and in 1998 Noreen married Dr. William R. McGraw. William passed away on December 8, 2020. Noreen and Bill lived in Prineville, Oregon after their marriage until 2007 and then moved to the San Diego, California area, before Noreen returned to Portland in 2018. Noreen was preceded in death by her brothers Bernard Kelly, an attorney, and Dr. Edward James Kelly. Noreen is survived by her four children: Mark Saltveit of Middlebury, Vermont, John Saltveit, and Mary Lang, of Portland, and Ted Saltveit, of Larkspur, California, and her five grandchildren.

Noreen started practicing law in Medford in a general litigation firm, including jury trials, with her father and brother, Bernard. She also served as Medford’s first female Municipal Court Judge while maintaining her private practice. She was quickly recognized by her peers for her intense preparation, skillful cross-examination and persuasive argument. In 1957, she took on the case of long-time prisoner Hugh DeAutremont, youngest of Oregon’s most famous train robbers, resolving the case and securing his parole, despite the risk and unpopularity this provoked.

In 1960, she moved to Portland to become the first female trial attorney in the Attorney General’s office, trying workers’ compensation cases (jury trials at the time). For the next 30 years she was recognized throughout Oregon as an expert in that field, handling a heavy volume of litigation while serving as writer and chief editor of several Oregon Continuing Legal Education handbooks, and chairing programs.

A professional mother ahead of her time, she pioneered flexible work schedules throughout the 1960s, working half time as she raised four children. In 1966, she spent a year in Mexico with her family and became fluent in Spanish.

Returning to Portland in 1967, she resumed trial work in private practice, handling many social justice cases. In 1969, she took on the first federal class action lawsuit in Oregon on behalf of migrant farm workers. Moreno v. Tankersley, tried in U. S. District Court in 1970 with a Spanish interpreter, gave Oregon’s growing Hispanic community the realization and reality of access to the legal system.

Soon afterwards, she established the first public interest law firm in Oregon, with colleagues Marmaduke, Aschenbrenner and Merten. She applied the skills and knowledge she gained through the Moreno case to several class action lawsuits she filed on behalf of minorities and women.

Returning to solo practice in the 1980s, she was active in various Bar and community leadership roles, including her continuing legal education (CLE) work, the University of Oregon Law School Board of Visitors, and the Metropolitan Human Rights Steering Commission among others.

In the 1990s, she shifted her law practice into the new area of alternative dispute resolution, serving as the mediator or arbitrator, until her retirement in 2012. She also became involved in Bar governance, serving on the State Bar’s Board of Governors from 1992-1994, the Multnomah Bar Association’s Board of Directors, 1998-2002 and the Board of Oregon Women Lawyers, 1992-1995.

She was the first woman lawyer to receive the Multnomah Bar Association’s prestigious Professionalism award (1995), the Douglas Daughtry Professionalism award (Workers’ Compensation Bar, 1999), and the State Bar’s highest honor, the Award of Merit in 1995.

The University of Oregon Law School, in conferring its Meritorious Service Award on her in 1996, recited:

“…in recent years, she has led her peers in the Development of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Her empathy and skill in mediation and arbitration, including labor arbitration, are widely respected. She is a role model and mentor for lawyers throughout the state, a pioneer and leader in the development of public interest law, her generous pro-bono service has supported the rights and access to justice of culturally diverse groups…”

She was known as a loving mother, a compassionate friend, a fearless trial lawyer, and a life-long, devout Catholic.

A funeral mass will be held at St. Mary’s Cathedral at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2021, followed by a reception). A graveside service will be held at 3:00 p.m. at Lincoln Memorial, 11801 SE Mt Scott Blvd., Portland, OR 97086. Remembrances can be made to Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center at the following link:


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Noreen McGraw


Karen Fink

29 junio , 2021

Noreen Kelly Saltveit McGraw. Rest In Peace. Noreen was one of the first woman litigators in Oregon. She was brave. She was fearless. She was one of Oregon’s fiercest Warriors for Justice. She was a pioneer. Noreen was my mentor, role-model, co-conspirator and dearest friend. To the women lawyers of Oregon, we have achieved acceptance and success because of Noreen’s vision and life well lived. Noreen, your legacy of kindness and inspiration is forever.

Leslie Johnson

23 junio , 2021

Noreen was such a stellar role model for women litigators - smart, disciplined, well-prepared, great temperament. I feel fortunate to have had a few experiences of her in our profession at the start of my career. I wish her family well.

Mary Lang

20 junio , 2021

Please note that the graveside service is actually on Tuesday, June 22nd at 3:00 p.m. at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery.

kathryn ehlers

17 junio , 2021

My dearest, darling friend of 37 years, you will be with me in spirit for the rest of my life. You are my best hope for who we can become. I will always love my Cricket and her children. Love, Kathryn