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Posted: June 26, 2009

Pioneer of TV ads for lawyers remembered

Norton Frickey died at the age of 84 on June 14

Don Knox—Law Week Colorado

Earlier this month, hundreds of people gathered in Lakewood to remember Norton Frickey, a personal-injury attorney and national pioneer in TV advertising for lawyers, as an outrageous, caring and larger-than-life figure “about whom stories are told.”

Frickey was 84.

Frickey’s funeral prompted Pastor Joe Wahlin to come out of retirement and regale Frickey’s family and friends with personal stories of a man, known as “NF,” whom Wahlin knew well and loved.

Frickey was “one of the true characters of my life," Wahlin told mourners assembled at Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church. But most of all, Wahlin said, he witnessed Frickey’s faith through his kindness in dealing with people “who needed help in the hall of justice.”

‘Masters of the TV craft’

Wahlin recalled the day in the 1980s that an unspecified TV evangelist had “fallen from grace.” Frickey bewailed this development.

“He was not bewailing it for any moral reason, for he told me ‘those people provide the raw material for my production ideas,’” Wahlin said, to the roar of the crowd. “They are masters of the TV craft. And often I wondered afterwards when he was watching them, did he simply take the craft, or did he ever stop to listen to what they were saying.”

Funeral programs proclaimed Frickey as a “friend of the working man.” Even before he took to the airwaves in the late 1970s — after the U.S. Supreme Court permitted lawyers to advertise — he had long fought for larger payouts from insurance companies and corporations on behalf of individual plaintiffs.

But Frickey’s legacy was advertisements he created for his practice and others through his Network Affiliates Inc., a Lakewood company he founded in 1981 at age 52. The full-service agency specializes in producing “customized television, radio and print advertising” on behalf of personal injury lawyers, cosmetic dentists and plastic and LASIK surgeons.

The privately held company, which boasts clients nationwide including The Cochran Firm started by late O.J. Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, today is run by Frickey’s youngest son, Norty. It operates from offices at 940 Wadsworth Blvd., also in Lakewood, and has 16 employees, according to its website.

NF was one of a kind

In addition, Frickey also launched a post-production facility, operating under the name Crosspoint. In the 1990s, when most people are well into their retirements, he launched Frickey Investment Management Co., an oil and gas production company that operates oil and gas leases in more than 15 states.

Frickey’s children produced a video painting him as a funny, eccentric and doting father, who loved animals and gardening and wouldn’t allow them to have or ride bicycles because they “didn’t stand a chance against a car.” So instead, he bought a motorcycle, which he tried to teach them to ride and instead crashed on the first attempt. The Frickey children never rode it.

After the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, Frickey, who often traveled to neighboring states to check on his oil properties and was subjected to “indignities” at the airport, decided to travel instead by a white limo he had purchased.

“I just hope they’re ready for him,” his children said in the video. “There were times we were amazed, shocked, scandalized and embarrassed by him. But there was laughter, joy, fun and unforgettable memories. There will never be another man whom we affectionately knew as NF. We love you and life will not be the same without you. And you did it your way.”

To that, strains of Frank Sinatra’s rendition of ‘My Way” swept through the church accompanied by family pictures of Frickey and TV advertisements proclaiming “He’s in your corner.”

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Don Knox, a former business editor at the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, runs Circuit Media and serves as editor of news cooperative Colorado Capital Reporters, through which this story was distributed.  

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