MISSOULA - Edward “Ed” Patrick Moriarity died of pancreatic cancer on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Missoula at the age of 79. He was surrounded by family including children and grandchildren when he passed.
Ed was born in Butte on Aug. 21, 1941, to Edward Joseph and Helen “Hellie” Moriarity. He was the first of four children who remained close throughout their lives. Growing up in Butte in the “Dublin Gulch” neighborhood, he learned the importance of family, community and hard work, and to fight for what matters. Ed always spoke fondly of his childhood home and the lessons learned in Butte. His father was a hard rock miner for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company for 35 years before dying of miner’s lung disease at age 46. He always credited his parents’ experience with the Anaconda Copper Mining Company as the motivating factor for his decision to attend law school and pursue a career where he could fight for justice.
Ed graduated from Carroll College in 1963. While at Carroll, he met Ann Bass, and the couple were married in 1965 and together raised five children. Ed and Ann first moved to Wrangell, Alaska, where he worked as an accountant and where they were blessed with their firstborn, Michelle. They moved to Laramie, Wyoming, where they were joined by their daughter Susan and in 1970 Ed received his J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law. He began his legal career in Cheyenne, Wyoming, working with the firm of McClintock, Mai, and Urbigkit, and later Urbigkit, Moriarity, Halle, and Mackey. The family grew to include a third daughter, Jennifer. In 1974 the family moved to Casper, Wyoming, and joined forces with Gerry Spence in a partnership that lasted over 30 years. While in Casper, they added two sons, Edward and William. The firm eventually moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Storied personal injury attorneys, Ed and Gerry made their names fighting for individual people taking on corporations, insurance companies and the government. Ed always made sure to include a number of criminal matters, often pro bono, in his caseload because he preferred jury trials and always sought to work for the public good.
His professional career was marked by a number of notable cases including obtaining a jury verdict against McDonald’s Corporation on behalf of a small, family-owned ice cream company; securing a jury award against Kerr-McGee on behalf of Karen Silkwood’s children (the facts of this case are the subject of Meryl Streep’s 1983 film “Silkwood”); taking on Larry Flint and Penthouse Magazine on behalf of Miss Wyoming; defending Randy Weaver after the Ruby Ridge incident; and successfully defending Imelda Marcos against racketeering charges in New York City. He was also granted the unique opportunity to defend Lee Harvey Oswald alongside Gerry in the BBC’s production of a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald, opposing the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, who had prosecuted Charles Manson. While Ed enjoyed his work on these high-profile matters, he always said he preferred cases that quietly helped ordinary people survive, better their lives and find justice. He was particularly privileged to share the courtroom with his sister, Mary Kay Downey, and his son-in-law, Shandor Badaruddin. He spent the last 20 years of his career as the senior partner of Moriarity & Badaruddin, where he continued his work representing individuals in need of an unwavering advocate.
Ed was an avid outdoorsman who loved to fish, hunt and explore the beauty of both Montana and Wyoming. He cherished the many days he spent fishing with his brothers and close friends (particularly Lamont Miller and Terry Mackey) on the rivers of Wyoming. He served on the Wyoming Fish and Game Commission and the Spence and Moriarity Wildlife Management Area outside of Dubois, Wyoming, is one of his lasting legacies. He also loved a good soak in any hot springs and owned and operated “Hellie’s Tepee Pool and Spa” in Thermopolis, Wyoming, with his brothers and sister.
Ed and Ann separated in 1979 but maintained a remarkable friendship throughout their lives; they were best friends and confidantes to the end. In 1991, Ed married Katie Rentfro and added her two children, Melissa and Zane, to his brood. He remained devoted to Katie even after her death in 2017.
Ed was the patriarch of a large and boisterous family. The laughter, joy and accomplishments of his grandchildren were his sustenance in the last years of his life. He loved boxing, football and softball, particularly when his grandchildren were involved. He loved attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and was almost always the proudest and loudest attendee at any of the events.
Ed is preceded in death by his father, Edward Joseph Moriarity, his mother, Helen McGonigle Moriarity, and his wife, Katie Moriarity. He is survived by his three siblings: Mary Kay Downey, Daniel “Dan” Moriarity and William “Bill” (Penny) Moriarity; close friend Ann Moriarity; his seven children and their spouses: Michelle (Shandor) Badaruddin, Susan (Kevin) Moriarity Miltko, Jennifer (Henry “Tad”) True, Edward “Eddie” (Megan) Moriarity, William “Billy” (Amanda) Moriarity, Melissa “Missy” (Eric) Sellars, and Zane Rentfro; and his 18 grandchildren: Caelin, Kane, Maggie, Molly, Helen, Tejah, Henry, Zoltan, Sam, Anne, Toryn, Charles, Kaden, Lucienne and Amelia, Benton, Barrett, and Harrison. In addition to his siblings, children, and grandchildren, Ed’s family consisted of an untold number of nieces and nephews, friends, fellow lawyers, and clients whom he loved dearly and cared for his entire life.
In lieu of flowers, donations that honor Ed’s legacy are welcome and appreciated. They can be sent to Missoula Catholic School at 300 Edith St. 59801 or through their website at www.mcsmt.org; Montana Legal Services Association at www.mtlsa.org/donate/; or any charity of your choice. A public memorial will be planned in the future.