Washington, D.C. attorney, Joseph Hayes Koonz, Jr., died peacefully on Saturday, September 28, 2013. He was born on November 27, 1934, in Cornwall, NY. He is one of six siblings, Annette Leveque, Joan Gazzaniga, John Koonz, Virginia Koonz and predeceased by his sister Mary Ellen Koonz.
Mr. Koonz graduated with honors from Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1956, and from Georgetown University Law Center in 1959, followed by a tour of duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia in 1960. He practiced personal-injury and workers’-compensation law, specializing in the representation of injured workers.
Mr. Koonz founded the law firm of Koonz, McKenney, & Johnson in 1979. Under his leadership, the firm became one of the largest and most successful personal injury firms in the D.C. metropolitan area. The firm is now known as Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P.
Mr. Koonz earned a reputation as a persistent, dedicated, and creative advocate. Relishing the challenge, he often enthusiastically took on the cases of clients who other lawyers refused to represent. Mr. Koonz was an intrepid tactician with a personable style that endeared him to juries.
For example, in the case of Biscoe v. Arlington County, Mr. Koonz overcame the county’s sovereign-immunity defense and won a jury verdict over $4 million, later upheld on appeal, for a bystander who was catastrophically injured after being struck by a car operated by a fleeing bank robber negligently chased at high speeds by a county police officer. In Garcia v. Children’s Hospital, Mr. Koonz secured a substantial monetary settlement for the family of a youngster who suffered permanent and profound neurological injuries due to the hospital’s negligence, even though other law firms had decided that the case was too difficult to pursue.
Mr. Koonz was a member of the Board of Directors of the Council for Court Excellence and was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He served as President of the District of Columbia Trial Lawyers Association and was named its “Trial Lawyer of the Year” in 1990. He was featured on both The Today Show and Good Morning America in conjunction with successful trials.
Mr. Koonz served as a Member of the Board of Regents of Catholic University, Washington, D.C., and was Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire. He served on the Board of Directors of Georgetown Preparatory School, Rockville, Maryland, and Stone Ridge Country Day School of Sacred Heart, Bethesda, Maryland. In 1982, Mr. Koonz donated the Koonz Theatre at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, which is the venue for many significant events, including the Presidential Debates that are held every four years prior to the New Hampshire primary. Mr. Koonz was honored for his philanthropic endeavors on behalf of the Archdiocese of Washington, “So Others Might Eat,” Providence Hospital, and Friendship House. He was a significant fundraiser for a variety of charitable organizations in the Washington area. Mr. Koonz was a Knight of Malta, Federal Association.
He was an avid sports fan and devoted himself to the youth of DC as a mentor and coach for the Jelleff Boys and Girls Club of Washington, D.C. for many years. He took his team, “Team Incredible” on to win several championships.
Joe is survived by his loving wife, Barbara Munday, three children, Mary Koonz Landriau, Joseph Koonz, III, and John Koonz, two step-children, Oliver Munday and Clare Munday, and three grandchildren, Megan, James and Sarah Landriau. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent or made online to Cleveland Park Village, an organization dedicated to helping seniors age gracefully and independently in their community. Contact www.clevelandparkvillage.org or PO Box 11231, Washington, D.C. 20008, 202-615-5853. Alternatively, donations may be sent to the musical theatre program of John Eaton Elementary School, where Joe and Barbara were committed to enriching the lives of children through arts education. Those donations can be made in honor of Joe to John Eaton Home and School Association, and directed to the musical theatre program and sent 3301 Lowell Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008.