By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Arthur Makadon, one of Philadelphia’s top behind-the-scenes power brokers and the former head of one of the city’s most powerful law firms, has died at age 70.
Makadon was the very definition of a mover-and-shaker, serving as a trusted advisor to many Philadelphia officials including Ed Rendell and John Street.
Rendell, who first met Makadon in 1968 when they were both Assistant District Attorneys, called Makadon a great friend and “a true lion”:
“It’s a great loss to the city. He was one of the movers-and-shakers. He could be wild at times. He was fearless, feared nobody, feared nothing. But he always fought for the things that were right for the city.”
And Rendell said Makadon’s efforts for the city were rarely seen by the public:
“He worked hard. Just as recently as two, three weeks ago, he was working to try help the city get adequate funding from the legislature in Harrisburg for the schools. He was an incredible person. He was brilliant. He had the most quick intelligence of anybody I’ve ever met. He was a great litigator — one of the best the city has ever seen.”
Former Rendell Chief of Staff David L. Cohen worked with Makadon at the law firm Ballard Spahr:
“Arthur was at the center at a lot of important things that happened in this city politically, and from a business community and legal community perspective, for my entire time in Philadelphia. He was close personal friends with (mayors) Bill Green, Ed Rendell, John Street and Michael Nutter. He was one of those people who — no matter who you were — when you had a tough problem, and wanted great judgment and great advice, Arthur was your first call.”
Makadon began his career with the Philadelphia DA’s office, rising to First Assistant District Attorney under Arlen Specter. He moved to private practice with Ballard Spahr, and served as chairman of the firm from 2002 until 2011.
Cohen credits Makadon with converting Ballard Spahr from a good Philadelphia law firm into “one of two or three of the best firms, and the most successful firms, in the city.”
Makadon remained as a litigator even after stepping down as chairman, and remained an advisor to many.
“Arthur is one of those people who this city will miss. Everyone may not realize the influence that he had on so many good things that happened in this city. I’ve never met anyone with better judgment, and everyone who asked for his advice felt the same way. There a not a lot of people like Arthur Makadon around,” said Cohen.
For Cohen, now Executive Vice President at Comcast, Makadon’s death is a very personal loss:
“He plucked me out of law school, and recruited me to Ballard, and introduced me to Ed (Rendell), was my closest confident, and my best friend. On a personal level, the loss is incalculable.”
According to Ballard Spahr’s website, funeral services will be private and a memorial service will be held at a later date.