David Carpenter, Chicago lawyer turned yoga instructor, has died


David Carpenter was a nationally recognized Chicago attorney and telecommunications law expert who embraced yoga, first as a student and then as a teacher.

“He was a more versatile triple-A partner, who was generous and wrote some wonderful legal briefs,” said R. Eden Martin, Sidley Austin’s retired partner. “Everything he did, he did seriously. He was focused and he made an effort to be as good as possible.

Carpenter, 71, died of complications from pancreatic cancer on July 22 at his Chicago home, his 18-year-old wife, Orit, said. He had been a longtime resident of Lincoln Park.

Born in Chicago, David William Carpenter grew up in Hinsdale and graduated from what was then known as Hinsdale Township High School. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1972 and a law degree from Boston University in 1975.

After law school, Carpenter clerked for two years for Justice Frank Coffin on the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, then served as a law clerk for a year for the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. of the United States, William Brennan.

In 1978, Carpenter became a partner in the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley Austin, where he analyzed complex antitrust, regulatory, and constitutional issues in the telecommunications, cable television, and electrical industries. Carpenter has also handled appeals in all areas of law, arguing five cases before the United States Supreme Court and arguing more than 65 cases before federal and state appellate courts.

Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow, 96, Sidley Austin’s lead attorney and longtime friend, remembered Carpenter as an “outstanding attorney” who worked alongside the famous partner of Sidley Austin, Howard Trienens, who died last year.

“David came to us and we immediately saw exceptional talent,” Minow said. “Soon David was successfully litigating cases all over the United States.”

Carpenter was promoted to partner at Sidley Austin in 1982. He resigned as a partner in 2013 and remained the firm’s senior counsel until his full retirement in 2015.

Plagued by back problems, Carpenter began in 1999 in his spare time practicing a form of yoga known as Iyengar Yoga. Participants strive to perfect the form of each posture, using props such as blocks, blankets and straps. Carpenter has served on the board of the National Iyengar Yoga Association of the United States, including as group president.

Carpenter and his wife also attended month-long workshops and intensive sessions at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, India, and he was eventually certified as an Iyengar instructor. He then taught yoga classes for several years until shortly before his death.

“Many people take up yoga in the hope that it can help them deal with stressful lives and/or physical issues, said Michael Lucey, also past president of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States. . “For David, yoga was an art, a practice and a philosophical pursuit – part of his voracious appetite for all aspects of life.”

Carpenter’s wife said that although back pain sparked her interest in yoga, “it immediately became the second priority.”

“He realized early in his practice that Iyengar yoga is not for pain or for becoming more flexible, but it was more mental work and calmer his mind,” said Orit Carpenter. “That’s what he was looking for. As a lawyer, his mind was going 100 miles an hour, and Iyengar yoga made him go in and seek the silence within.

An enthusiastic opera fan, Carpenter was a longtime subscriber and donor to Lyric Opera of Chicago, and he joined its board in 2000. He served on the board for the next two decades.

“Throughout the time that I have had the pleasure of knowing him, I have always been truly amazed by his wisdom, his thoughtfulness, his sense of balance and his very serious commitment to (the Lyric Opera of Chicago ) and the art form,” Anthony said. Freud, Managing Director, President and CEO of Lyric. “Everything he did was extraordinarily thoughtful, and I think maybe that stems from his passion for philosophy and his majoring in philosophy.”

Freud noted that Carpenter and his colleagues at Sidley Austin were the main proponents of lyric operas that were not “your usual mainstream productions of ‘La Traviata’ and ‘La Boheme’.”

“They sponsored ‘The Passenger’ by (Mieczyslaw) Weinberg and ‘The Trojans’ by (Hector) Berlioz, a huge epic that we did for the first time in the company’s history in 2016,” Freud said. . “And they sponsored a really eye-opening production of Handel’s ‘Ariodante’ – another rarity. And in a way I think the choice of work David got himself into is a really interesting reflection of his intellect, of his curiosity and his personality.

In 1987, Carpenter’s mother, Dorothy Susan Carpenter, who died in 2011, co-founded the DuPage Children’s Museum, which offers hands-on programs for children and is now located in Naperville. David Carpenter joined the museum’s board about a decade ago and soon became its chairman.

In 2015, the museum closed for an extended period after a broken water main burst and flooded all three floors of the museum. Sarah Orleans, then president and CEO of the museum, remembers working closely with David Carpenter to lead the museum during this difficult time.

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“He was instrumental in helping us navigate through all the insurance issues and all the legalities that have to be dealt with when you’re closed for so long. Him and I, at the end of our term together there , we felt very good to be able to transform the museum after something so terrible,” Orléans said.

Carpenter’s daughter, Johanna “Hanna” Lyden, said that outside of work, Carpenter was close to his wife and daughters.

“It’s hard to think of my father over the past few decades without thinking of his relationship with Orit,” Lyden said. “They shared so many interests, and they also had this way of relating to each other.”

A first marriage to Jane Carpenter ended in divorce. In addition to his wife and daughter, Carpenter is survived by another daughter, Julie Cassata; four grandchildren; and two brothers, Don and Doug.

A memorial ceremony is planned.

Bob Goldsborough is a freelance journalist.

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