Brian Pendleton, lawyer and philanthropist, dies at 80

'He was bigger than life,' friend recalls

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/27/20

Brian Pendleton, a noted attorney and philanthropist, passed away on Jan. 16 at age 80. The longtime Littleton resident is survived by his wife, Susan Stein; two daughters; two stepchildren; and …

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Brian Pendleton, lawyer and philanthropist, dies at 80

'He was bigger than life,' friend recalls

Posted

Brian Pendleton, a noted attorney and philanthropist, passed away on Jan. 16 at age 80.

The longtime Littleton resident is survived by his wife, Susan Stein; two daughters; two stepchildren; and eight grandchildren.

Pendleton became well-known as the senior partner of the law firm Pendleton and Sabian, which focused on commercial real estate law.

Pendleton was a gifted lawyer, recalled attorney Alan Friedberg, who worked alongside Pendleton for decades and stayed close friends after Pendleton's retirement in 2000.

“We had a good-guy, bad-guy routine,” Friedberg remembered. “Brian was the good guy.”

Friedberg said in one case, their client was sued by a big-time developer from the Denver Tech Center, who alleged their client violated an easement on a piece of property.

“Through some diligence, we discovered (the plaintiff) had given up that easement," he said. "We had a meeting, and Brian got him to commit to his story in a nice package, then I got to pull out the documents showing he was lying. The case went away. We loved those Perry Mason moments.”

Born in 1939 in New Jersey, Pendleton graduated from Yale University in 1961. He served as a gunnery officer in the Navy from 1961-65.

After obtaining a law degree from Nebraska's Hastings College in 1968, Pendleton was admitted to the Colorado bar. He and Michael Sabian founded Pendleton & Sabian in 1970.

The firm was a dynamic place, Friedberg said.

“I joined in 1975 — the firm was five years old, and Brian was only 36, but it had an incredible reputation. He was the old guy on the crew. We were young and energetic, and in every way the equal of the big firms.”

Over the years, Pendleton racked up a hefty list of accomplishments: he was a founding board member of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, helped Mary Carter establish her eponymous trail along the Platte River, was elected president of the board of the Japan-America Society of Colorado, and was president of the World Trade Center Denver from 1995-97.

After he retired at age 60 in 2000, he and his wife, Susan, embarked on a variety of world travels, including Central and South America, and a canoe trip down the Mississippi River.

Friedberg said his old friend left an admirable legacy.

“He wasn't always the easiest guy to work for, but his humanity was always front and center. He was bigger than life.”

A celebration of Pendleton's life will be held at the Jefferson Unitarian Church at 14350 West 32nd Ave. in Golden at 11 a.m. on Feb. 15.

The family requests that those who wish to make gifts donate to their favorite charity in his name.

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