Karen Detamore, 62, a Philadelphia lawyer who was executive director of the Friends of Farmworkers from 1989 to 2009, died Tuesday, May 1, at her home in West Philadelphia. She had suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis.
Ms. Detamore managed the Pennsylvania-wide program, based in Philadelphia, that provides legal services to indigent migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
Throughout her career, Ms. Detamore worked to represent the disadvantaged.
Inspired by anti-Vietnam protests while at Bryn Mawr College, she lived out "a concern about the plight of abused and low-wage workers. It was a personal passion," her domestic partner, Harold Jordan, said in a Monday interview.
In June 2011, the Philadelphia chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, of which she had been a member since 1973, honored her at a reception at the American Friends Service Committee.
The announcement of that event reported that in 2006 the Pennsylvania Bar Association gave her its Everyday Leader Award and in 2009 the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network gave her its Excellence Award.
In an appreciation on its website, the local chapter of the lawyers guild stated that Friends of Farmworkers "has become an important and powerful legal advocacy group thanks in major part to Karen's vision, dedication, intelligence, and strategy."
She also represented farmworkers, the statement said, as the chair of the farmworker law section of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and as a representative to its civil policy group.
Jordan said Ms. Detamore's career path was set after "she was arrested at a protest against the Vietnam War when she was a sophomore at Bryn Mawr."
The native of Columbus, Ohio, left college, he said, and from 1973 to 1976 was coordinator of Philadelphians for Equal Justice, which her resumé stated was "an agency dedicated to ending police abuse."
A January 1976 Philadelphia Daily News report stated that deaths and woundings of civilians involving police officers had decreased in 1975 compared with 1974 and quoted Ms. Detamore suggesting that publicity by her agency had contributed to the decline.
While with the Equal Justice group, Jordan said, she continued her studies with a Philadelphia branch of Antioch College
She earned a bachelor's from Antioch in 1976 and graduated from the Rutgers University School of Law in Camden in 1982, where she earned the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence in 1981.
In 1978-79, she was director of the paralegal studies program of the Free Law School in Philadelphia, which trained paralegals for work in public interest cases.
From 1979 to 1982, she focused on her law school studies before returning to the Free Law School, renamed the Legal Awareness Workshops, as director in 1983-84.
She maintained a law practice in Center City during the 1980s, Jordan said, specializing in military and veterans law, but ended that career when, in 1987 to 1989, she worked as the national coordinator of the criminal justice program of the American Friends Service Committee.
A member of the board of governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2006 and again in 2008 to 2010, she was chair of its public interest section in 2004, executive director Lynne Brown said.
In addition to her partner, Ms. Detamore is survived by their son, Gregory, and daughter Carla Jordan-Detamore.
A life celebration is planned for an undetermined site and hour on June 16,