His friends called him simply “The Greek.”
But to a generation of some of the Kansas City area’s most accomplished lawyers, Robert Dakopolos was a mentor and example of what it means to be a good attorney.
Dakopolos, 89, died on New Year’s Day in the Lake of the Ozarks area, where he had lived since his retirement in 1989.
“He was a legal giant,” said Kansas City attorney Kevin Regan. “No one trained more successful lawyers than Bob.”
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Dakopolos was born in Kansas City, served in the Navy during World War II and received his law degree in 1953 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
He made his most lasting mark during an 18-year career in the Jackson County prosecutor’s office, serving as chief assistant and trial director under Joe Teasdale, Ralph Martin and Albert Riederer.
The roster of young lawyers who learned their trade under his guidance includes numerous judges, scores of attorneys and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
“As a young lawyer entering the courtroom, he was my teacher, taskmaster and ultimately became my lifelong friend,” McCaskill said. “All who were lucky to know him are remembering his quiet greatness.”
In a testament to his influence, 14 lawyers who worked under Dakopolos have received the Missouri Bar Foundation’s Lon O. Hocker Award, given annually to outstanding young trial lawyers, Regan said.
Regan and another well-respected Kansas City defense attorney, John P. O’Connor, are among them.
“Bob Dakopolos was an outstanding trial lawyer,” O’Connor said. “He was also a great man and mentor to me and the many young prosecutors who worked in that office.”
Charles Atwell, a former Jackson County circuit judge now in private legal practice, called Dakopolos a “great human being” who trained some of the best trial lawyers Kansas City has seen.
“He had a positive effect on both our justice system and a whole lot of people,” Atwell said.
Jackson County Associate Circuit Judge Jeff Bushur said Dakopolos was the embodiment of a tough but fair prosecutor who earned the respect of friends and foes.
He always sought to do what he felt was the right thing, even if it was not politically popular, Bushur said.
The family is planning a private service at his home.
“He couldn’t have been a better dad and grandfather,” said his son, Steve Dakopolos.