Seymour Mintz, 98, dies; tax law expert's clients included Howard Hughes
Friday, November 5, 2010; 7:57 PM
Seymour S. Mintz, 98, an eminent Washington tax lawyer whose clients
included the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, died Nov. 3 at his home in
Bethesda after a heart attack.
Mr. Mintz worked for the Internal Revenue Service before joining Hogan and
Hartson in 1946. He founded the firm's tax law division, became a partner in
1949 and quickly acquired a reputation as one of Washington's leading experts
on tax law.
Mr. Mintz became one of the tax lawyers for Hughes, the aircraft magnate
and film producer. In 1953, Mr. Mintz helped Hughes found the Howard
Hughes Medical Institute, which is based in Chevy Chase. The institute, one
of the world's foremost nonprofit medical research centers, has an endowment
from Hughes's fortune.
Seymour Stanley Mintz was born in Newark and grew up in Washington,
where he graduated from the old Central High School. He was a 1933
graduate of George Washington University and a 1936 graduate of its law
school, which he attended at night while working during the day as a mattress
He became a lawyer for the office of the undersecretary of the Treasury
before joining the office of the chief counsel of the IRS in 1938.
During World War II, Mr. Mintz served in the Pacific with the Coast Guard
and later worked for the Navy as an intelligence officer. Toward the end of his
service, Mr. Mintz used his law background investigating war-profiteering
Mr. Mintz had an interest in psychoanalysis and once served as the president
of the Washington School of Psychiatry.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Bettie Rosenthal Mintz of Bethesda;
two children, John Mintz of Chevy Chase, who is a former Washington Post
reporter, and Jim Mintz of New York; two stepchildren, Alex Stein of
Potomac and Sallie Findlay of Deer Isle, Maine; six grandchildren; and four
In 1984, Mr. Mintz became senior counsel to Hogan and Hartson, now known
as Hogan Lovells. For many years, he served on Hogan and Hartson's
executive committee, and he helped found the law firm's pro-bono community
In an interview for a history on the law firm, Mr. Mintz described his proudest
achievements as a member of the executive committee, which voted on hiring
decisions and policies.
"Three things," Mr. Mintz said in 2003, "the admission of women, the
welcoming of blacks and the elimination of prejudice against homosexuals."
- T. Rees Shapiro