February 2015 Bar Bulletin
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Profile / Rod Waldbaum

It All Adds Up

By Tyler Jones


Last spring at its annual meeting, the Washington State Bar Association Tax Section awarded Rodney J. Waldbaum the 2014 Roger L. Stouder Award. This award is given by the Tax Section in recognition of the recipient's dedication to his community, exceptional skills in the field of taxation, and "above all, display of professionalism." It is the only award given by the Tax Section to a member of the bar.

The award was especially meaningful for Waldbaum, who knew Stouder from Waldbaum's term as president of the Tax Section in 1993–94. Stouder was a distinguished tax lawyer in Seattle, who died of cancer in the late 1990s. The award was established in 1999 as a way to honor Stouder's contributions to the tax bar in Washington.

Rod, as he is known to those close to him, is a fifth-generation Seattle native, his grandfather having graduated from the University of Washington School of Law in 1910. Rod attended Garfield High School, where he was senior class president, and is an honors graduate of the University of Washington for both his undergraduate and law degrees.

Rod has spent his entire career working in the area of tax law, and is both an attorney and inactive CPA. Rod started his tax career with Weyerhaeuser's state and local tax department while he was still in college studying to be an accountant. While Rod enjoyed his time at Weyerhaeuser, he recognized that there were a lot of layers to advance through there, so he joined the tax department at Arthur Andersen, which was Weyerhaeuser's CPA firm at the time, where he worked while he attended law school.

During his first year of law school, because of the Vietnam War, Rod's class was the first to have its military exemption withdrawn as of the end of the class year. Fortunately, Rod was able to enlist as a reservist in an Army civil affairs unit on July 1, 1968, which just so happened to be the same day that Rod joined Arthur Andersen.

The Army, in its infinite wisdom, made Rod a first cook. He was offered a direct commission as an officer after law school, but he turned it down because he did not want to give up the power of being first cook. To this day, he maintains it was the most powerful position he has ever had. Once, when a major gave the cooks a bad time, the major later found baking soda in his coffee. No one messed with the cooks.

To this day, Rod tells his wife of 46 years that anytime she wants to have 300 people over for dinner, he is more than ready to help cook. So far, she has not taken him up on that offer.

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