Bonnie Glantz Fatell, 68, of Havertown, a partner in the law firm of Blank Rome LLP who mentored other women in the workplace, died Saturday, Aug. 24, of cancer at her home.
A Broomall native, Mrs. Fatell graduated from Marple Newtown High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1973 and a degree from what is now the Temple University Beasley School of Law in 1981.
She began her career in 1981 with the Philadelphia law firm of Wexler, Weisman, Forman & Shapiro. In 1984, when a team of lawyers from Wexler left to join Blank Rome, she went with them. At various times, she worked out of offices in Philadelphia and Wilmington.
Mrs. Fatell was a bankruptcy specialist and a chair of the firm’s Business Restructuring and Bankruptcy Group from 2001 through 2008. She was one of the first female lawyers nationwide to chair a firm’s national bankruptcy practice. She focused on bankruptcy reorganizations, out-of-court restructurings, and related litigation.
During the same seven years, Mrs. Fatell served on Blank Rome’s partner nominating committee, partner board, women’s steering committee, and diversity committee. Twice, she served as the administrative head of the firm’s Wilmington office. She retired from Blank Rome in 2016.
“We have lost a leader, trailblazer, colleague, member of our family, and one of the nicest, most caring individuals we will ever know,” managing partner and CEO Grant S. Palmer said in announcing her death. “For nearly 35 years, Bonnie has been both a pillar and a force of nature at the firm. She conducted herself with the highest level of professionalism and grace, and embodied the Blank Rome spirit and culture.”
Ms. Fatell was passionate about women’s issues, and made it a priority to mentor women at Blank Rome on professional growth. “Her experience, drive, and compassion influenced countless women throughout the firm and the legal industry,” Palmer said.
She chaired the Blank Rome women’s forum, and organized and hosted educational, social, and networking events that were known not only for their success in promoting advancement and leadership, but also for attracting prominent speakers.
She created the firm’s annual women’s retreat, and in 2010 arranged for an appearance by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Fatell also hosted Geraldine Ferraro, a government relations principal at Blank Rome and the first woman belonging to a major political party to run for vice president of the United States.
Mrs. Fatell received regional and national recognition for her dedication to clients. In one case, she was presented with a ceremonial sword by Lyondell Chemical Co. because of her fierce advocacy in a bankruptcy proceeding in 2015. “She was knighted,” said Palmer. “She loved it.”
She was selected as the 2014 Lawyer of the Year by the publication Best Lawyers in America and was placed by the Philadelphia Business Journal on its 2014 “Women of Distinction” list.
Mrs. Fatell held leadership positions in the Delaware State Bar Association and was a member of the Pennsylvania State Bar. She was a chair of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Conference and a member of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation. She trained and served as a national bankruptcy mediator. She contributed articles to a special publication for bankruptcy lawyers.
Mrs. Fatell volunteered regularly for campaigns to encourage voting in national elections. She traveled, gardened, created pottery, and enjoyed spending time with family.
She is survived by her husband, Howard B. Fatell; son Daniel; daughter Sara; two sisters; a brother; and nieces and nephews.