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Pacific Palisades Community Council George Wolfberg - In Memoriam

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With profound sorrow, Pacific Palisades Community Council announces the passing, after long illness, of esteemed PPCC Chair Emeritus George Wolfberg. 
 
George was a long-time community activist, dedicated environmentalist, respected National Soccer Referee, UCLA Bruin enthusiast, gardener, chef and of course, loving family man.  He was a cherished friend and mentor to countless Palisadians and colleagues throughout the City of Los Angeles.  A proud recipient of the PPCC Community Service Award (2008), Citizen of the Year (2011) and Pride of the Palisades (2019) honors, George was the epitome of responsible leadership and dedicated service to his beloved Santa Monica Canyon and the entire Palisades community.  
 
He first served as PPCC Chair from 2002-2004 and was elected again to the position in 2018 and 2019 (the first and only person to serve three+ terms as Chair).  For six consecutive terms (12 years), he was elected by a wide margin as the At-Large representative for the entire community on the PPCC Board.  Since 2004, he served as Chair of the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee (a Brown-Acted committee appointed in the fall of that year by Los Angeles City Council and approved by the Mayor), which issued its report with recommendations for the proposed Canyon park in 2008.  Since then, George never paused in his efforts to ensure that the park would become a reality for all.  
 
A long-time active board member and past Chair of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, he was a vital and respected leader of both PPCC and SMCCA. George established good relationships with elected officials, managers and workers in many jurisdictions and agencies.  They seemed to welcome his calls, requests and inputs on behalf of our community. Often, a call from George would generate quick results.
 
One of the hallmarks of George's leadership style was to make everyone feel that they could speak and would be heard.  When he received the Citizen of the Year award, George characteristically remarked: "The roulette wheel stopped on my number . . . I just happened to be lucky, it could have been probably half the people in this room."  One of his guiding principles was summed up in his favorite quote: “You can quit when you die. Never, ever give up.” 
 
George’s vast knowledge, un-flagging enthusiasm, optimism, tenacity, humility, guidance and friendship will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege of working with and knowing him.  
 
The PPCC Board extends our deepest sympathies to George’s wife Diane, his children and his many extended family members.
Will Rogers once said: “We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
We clap for George!

Biking in LA Blog: Bike and civic giant George Wolfberg dies

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Giants are usually invisible.

You seldom notice them hiding among the rest of us, doing the same things we do.

Until one falls. And it’s felt all over the city.

Like my friend George Wolfberg, an invisible giant of the Los Angeles bicycling community.

And virtually every other community in the City of Angels.

It was just yesterday, flipping the pages of the LA Times, that I recognized Wolfberg’s face looking back at me from the obituary pages, and learned he’d passed away last week after an extended illness at the age of 82.

His death did not go unnoticed in Pacific Palisades, where he was a longtime resident, chair emeritus of the community council, and the former leader of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association.

I first met the longtime bicycle and community advocate nearly a dozen years ago, when he was fighting a battle to extend the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path to Malibu.

One he ultimately lost to a group of fellow advocates who preferred the danger of keeping bicyclists on deadly PCH to the optics of such an expensive bikeway project.

But George quickly got me involved in other projects, from joining the PCH Task Force to represent the needs on bike riders on the dangerous corridor, to connecting me with just the right people in the city and county governments to get finally piles of sand swept off the beachfront path months after a storm.

Which wouldn’t have happened without Wolfberg’s help.

Because George Wolfberg knew almost everyone at every level of the city, county and state governments. And even set up meetings with state Assembly Members and Senators to present my approach to halting hit-and-runs.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to convince them at the time that hit-and-run was that big a problem.

I wonder if they get it now.

For years, I could count on finding links to some bicycling story or another from the Wall Street Journal or New York Times popping up in my inbox on a regular basis, with the email address invariably leading back to him.

And he never missed contributing to this site’s holiday fundraiser every year; it breaks my heart to think this last one was, in fact, the last one.

But that’s the funny thing about giants.

They don’t always tell you they are one. Or why.

I’d known for some time that George Wolfberg was one of the first members of the Los Angeles Bicycle Advocacy Committee.

But it wasn’t until yesterday that I learned he’d also served on the LA County BAC. Or that there even was an LACBAC.

I was familiar with the late LA bike legend Alex Baum’s work to bring the ’84 Olympic Games to Los Angeles, and that he was instrumental in bringing women’s cycling to the Games for the first time.

But I never knew Wolfberg had worked hand-in-glove with him, writing the original proposal for the Games that forced the International Olympic Committee’s hand by including women’s cycling as a demonstration sport.

Or that he was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to Los Angeles in ’94. Let alone that he fought the horrific South African apartheid by working to get the city to divest from the racially divided county, later earning thanks from Nelson Mandela himself.

And worked just as hard for the residents of South LA, setting up a meals program for soccer playing kids who didn’t get enough to eat at home.

George never told me any of that. Or the countless other civic and athletic accomplishments on his resume that have made this city a better place for all of us.

Because that’s not what giants do.

I am poorer today, because I lost a friend and ally.

But more importantly, this city is poorer because it lost a true giant of a community leader. A man who did everything Los Angeles asked of him, then kept on doing more.

We will all miss George Wolfberg, even if most of us will never know it.

May his memory be a blessing for all of us.

Photo from Pacifica Palisades Community Council

Obituary for George Sander Wolfberg

George Sander Wolfberg, b. April 22, 1938, was born and has lived his entire life in Los Angeles. He is survived by wife of 55 years, Diane (Davis) Wolfberg, daughter Anya McCann (and Richard McCann), sons David (and Lin Lin Oo) and Michael Wolfberg, grandsons Yeshaia van Leeuwen, Alex Wolfberg and Jonah Wolfberg, and granddaughter Avital van Leeuwen. He is also survived by brother Theodore (Ted) Wolfberg and sisters Jacqueline Smith and Saundra Wolfberg and seven nieces and nephews. George was 81 and died peacefully at home on February 5, 2020.

He was an All City swimmer at Los Angeles High School and received a BS in Political Science from the University of California, at Los Angeles in 1961 and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Southern California in 1971. He also served his country in the Air National Guard (from 1961-1967) where he learned how to volunteer. He was a Daily Bruin staff writer and staunch supporter of Bruin athletics. He held season basketball tickets for over 60 years, was a regular attendee of women’s and men’s soccer, and volunteered to gather statistics during football games at the Rose Bowl for over a decade. Through 2019 he was still meeting regularly with his Pi Lam fraternity brothers (for whom he served as President).

Wolfberg’s career was dedicated to the City of Los Angeles (City), beginning as a public pool lifeguard. At his retirement in 1996, he was a Chief Administrative Analyst in the City Administrative Office, well known by mayors and city council members going back to the administration of C. Norris Poulson. His college roommate was longtime City Councilman Joel Wachs, who says: “In City Hall, George was a rock of integrity and a font of knowledge which I and others who cared about our city always relied upon.”

Wolfberg considered one of his career highlights to be oversight of the City’s selective contracting policy to bring pressure upon South Africa to end apartheid, for which Nelson Mandela came to Los Angeles to specifically give thanks. Wolfberg prepared the City’s successful bid to host the 1984 Olympics and traveled alongside David Wolper to serve as subject matter expert on the City’s facilities. He obtained one of the first personal computers purchased by the City to prepare the 1984 Olympics budget. He also contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to make the L.A. Olympics a success and ensured upgrades were in place throughout the City in preparation for the games.

He is responsible for the birth of women’s Olympic cycling, which came about due to language he added committing the city and the IOOC to present the women’s road race as an exhibition sport. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will feature eleven women’s cycling events. George was also part of the committee working for years to secure the 1994 World Cup Soccer for Los Angeles, and traveled to the World Cup in Italy in 1990 to research facility needs.

Wolfberg worked closely with friend Ellen Stern Harris, who created the California Coastal Conservation Act establishing the California Coastal Commission and guarantees that Californians can access and enjoy our coastline and beaches. He campaigned against private beachfront property that would limit such access.

Wolfberg was an enthusiastic longboard surfer and there was a saying in his office when he took an occasional sick day: “Surf’s up!” He kept in touch with many of his former staff.

After retiring, George was recruited by Raphael Sonenshein to provide his expertise to the Los Angeles Appointed Charter Reform Commission, which, along with the Los Angeles Elected Charter Reform Commission that operated simultaneously and with the same mandate, created a "unified charter" proposal for the 1999 ballot. It resulted in the first successful and comprehensive update to the city's 1925 charter.

The new Charter enacted the creation of a citywide system of neighborhood councils with the goal of promoting public participation in City governance and decision-making process to create a government more responsive to local needs. Wolfberg served on the boards of both the Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC, 16 years) and the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association (more than 20 years). He led the communities where he lived in improvements in infrastructure and guiding land-use issues, preserving and creating public park lands and a historical eucalyptus grove, creating new systems to support those living without homes, and improvements in safety, aircraft noise pollution, and sustainability. He served on the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee, working on this issue for decades. He has advocated for greater public access to beaches via this future City park, including a bridge over PCH to link the beach bike path to the park for pedestrians and cyclists.

Lisa Cahill, Brentwood-Palisades Deputy-EnvironmentalLiaison, Councilmember Mike Bonin said:“My understanding is that George headed up the Potrero committee as its Chairman.Since the submission of the recommendations report in 2008, George has worked to ensure that the committee's recommendations were heard by all the City departments, helping to hold them accountable, to ensure that the final project honored the community's desires. More than being merely representative of the community's requests, however, George had a vision and an adherence to the creation of a public park that will serve everyone in LA. I think his love of the ocean and being outdoors helps motivate him---I get the feeling that he wanted to share this beautiful part of the world with everyone. I deeply admire his intelligence and dedication to what makes sense. He had a tenacity in standing up for what is fair and right, and is deeply committed to public safety. Most importantly I think, is George's ability to simultaneously advocate for his fellow Palisadians, while never wavering that this will be a park for all Angelenos.

“I personally would have been lost without George and the members of this committee, andI often use George's smile and his approval as a type of barometer, to know that I am doing a good job and that we were on the right path. The best thank you note I ever got from any constituent is one from George.All it said was "Good job!" I absolutely treasure it.

“As for other projects, there are so many. I know he has been tremendously instrumental in helping on the PCH Taskforce.”

Wolfberg worked closely with Councilman Mike Bonin’s office and was completely dedicated to issues before the PPCC. In August 2019, while in the ICU, he was texting and emailing key City staff and officials to encourage their attendance to vote to fund a new skateboard park at the beach at the bottom of Temescal Canyon, an historic skating site.

Mike Bonin said: “I, the community, and the City of Los Angeles that he served so damn well for so damn long love him. I am so deeply indebted to him for his leadership and his service -- and for the manner in which he led and served. From project after project, issue after issue, George has led and served with fierce determination, great warmth, big goals, and a smart and specific vision to achieve those goals. He has been a friend, mentor and inspiration to more people than we can count.”

He advocated with the City for years to identify and mitigate sources of bad health grades at Will Rogers State Beach, ultimately getting a bad sewage pipe replaced and sewage rerouted to the El Segundo treatment plant.

George served the community as a volunteer in many capacities. In the 1960s he and his wife, Diane, volunteered with Fair Housing doing sting operations on racist landlords by approaching them with housing applications after the landlords had unlawfully turned down applications by persons of color.

He was a driving force in AYSO Region 69, serving in various positions from coach and referee to Registrar and board member for 45 years. He became a nationally ranked referee who was still refereeing soccer games for teenagers at the time of his 80th birthday. He recruited many parents in the region to train as referees and coaches. He served on both the LA City and LA County Bicycle Advisory Committees, about 25 years apart.

He worked with Santa Monica Canyon and Rustic Canyon residents to restore the historic Uplifters Ranch eucalyptus grove and hand watered new trees there to nurture them for many years.

He was also appointed by the City as commissioner of the Watts Friendship Sports League following the 1992 riots. He served for ten years and raised over $100,000 in funding. It was the first youth sports league sponsored by the City. An example of his forward thinking, he created a program to serve free breakfast to all of the participants before sports started on the weekends.

A final impact Wolfberg made was to elevate the need for a comprehensive urban forest plan, leading to the August 2019 appointment of Rachel Malarich as the City’s first Forest Officer, a cornerstone to what’s being called L.A.’s New Green Deal and is tasked with reaching the goal to plant 90,000 trees by 2021.

Family and friends knew Wolfberg as something of a renaissance man. An avid chef who could recreate international feasts, he was also a ceramic artist at the Venice Pot Shop (a cooperative) as well as a Malibu Surfrider Beach longboard surfer in the 1960s and 1970s.

Funeral services were held on February 7 at Home of Peace Memorial Park. George can be remembered through donations to Planned Parenthood.

Palisades News - Remembering George Wolfberg (link)

Eulogy by the Eldest Son (David)

In recent days, we serenaded my dad with some of his favorite songs and since I haven’t been singing much in recent years, I remembered being selected to join a citywide LAUSD elementary school chorus to sing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I stood on stage, unable to see anyone in the audience from under the bright stage lights, and was still terrified. In the midst of an introductory speech by the then-head of LAUSD, people in the audience began to boo. A father yelled out, “we want to hear the kids, not you!” Another father’s voice boomed over it through the din of the packed pavilion: “SHUUUUT UUUPPPP!!!” There was silence. Some kids began clapping, so I joined in. The more independently-minded kid next to me asked me if I knew why I was clapping. I shrugged and kept clapping. I didn’t want to tell him that the SHUT UP that had nearly shattered the giant chandeliers surrounding the audience was the distinctive voice of my own father.

My dad had started to lighten up around kids by 1993, when he was serving as the commissioner of the Watts Friendship Sports League. It provided organized sports and recreation for 5,000 youths – soccer, of course, but also a dance program and drum corps. One day while I was there with him and he wasn’t in the room, a couple of kids were bickering. One thought the other was doing something he shouldn’t be doing. “OOOHHHH! I’m telling George!”
I was 25 years old. Up to this point in my life, “telling George” was something you’d only consider as the nuclear option. Anya, Michael and I would never ever think to Tell George. 

I mean, he’d want to know if we were facing mistreatment in the world at large. But to make him sort things out among us kids? The threat of Telling George would be hitting below the belt. 

It would also endanger the teller as much as the kid being narc’d upon. This was the man in whose ten commandments to his staff was the phrase “we do not have feelings.” (We Have Beliefs). But really, at one time or another, every kid we knew, and many adults, had come to dread a response from our dad that became known as THE LOOK. 

So, in this moment in Watts, I’m looking at these kids, and thinking, they don’t know the look??? What Has The Watts Friendship Sports League done with our father? I understood then just how good this kind of volunteering was for him. 

I spoke at his 80th birthday celebration about some of the other strange results of his volunteering for everything and his willingness to do a small favor for someone. How he literally had keys to the city, from cabinets at the local park to the actual Memorial Coliseum. Or he’d have a key to a gated complex with a swimming pool he’d use with a fabulous view from downtown. Things like that. We’d ask what was going on and he’d say “Oh, I did someone a favor.” 

He did some favors that were so successful, he was practically asked to apologize for them. His voice lent the most authority to the Burma selective contracting ordinance. When it came before the full City Council, he suggested they remove language that had made an exception for hotel providers. They did. This was the one case where the city was doing business with a company involved in Burma so it became the only real tooth in the law. The proposed law had been written by Loyola Law Professor Robert Benson, and Bob was very worried that this foray by my dad could lead us to a less than unanimous vote. 

Meanwhile, dad had also just listened to the current CAO tell the council that enforcement couldn’t be done. So my dad, who had already made the city a beacon of hope for South Africa, said he’d be happy to help. As council debated, Cindy Miscikowsky reminded everyone: “Heck, George said he’ll do it.” It passed unanimously. Up until the vote, Bob had been pretty nervous. Sorry. 

Fifteen years later, when I told Dad that my company faced an expiring tax break, and was looking at properties outside of Los Angeles, he brought this up with Councilmember Rosendahl, who became very concerned. When I relayed this back to my company’s general counsel, I was peppered with questions. What exactly had my Dad had said? She had done a great deal of work on the matter and had established relationships already. When I started asking dad, he apologized. Days later, Rosendahl (with Bonin?), Eric Garcetti and Mayor Villaraigosa are standing in our headquarters lobby in front of our Ambassador of First Impressions, surrounded by cameras, to announce the extension of this tax break. Sorry. 

Our dad’s sister Jacquie, a poker and blackjack dealer, has observed that her big brother was known to “hold his cards close to the vest.” Indeed, people who had known him for years were often surprised to learn a new quality about him that had been there all along. Throughout our lives, we heard people who had been part of a facet of our dad’s life refer to him as a “renaissance man” after making such a discovery. You now know about the old school grammarian who had written for the school paper, the Malibu longboard surfer, the swimmer, the soccer guy, and the administrator. He was also prolific behind the pottery wheel, could make an awesome tie dyed shirt, once won a rally medal behind the wheel of his ’63 Porsche, sat me as a child over his rear bicycle wheel and pedaled us all the way down to the Long Beach Pike. He completed that infamous Malibu triathalon the year of the brushfires. He took us camping and never glamping. At fishing, he was a natural.

He faced challenges in his life with a slight wince of bitterness followed by graceful and sweet determination. Years ago, he suffered from irreparable rotator cuff damage. That meant no more swimming. No more surfing. No more pottery. Instead of surrounding himself with his completed pottery, surfboard and goggles, picking up a bottle and lamenting about the good old days, he took up running, started going to the gym, obsessively designed and re-designed his daily smoothies and doubled down on his refereeing schedule. 

He volunteered for so many things that my mom came up with the same rule that many parents apply to their or their kids’ toys. For our dad, that meant if he took on a new volunteer duty, he’d have to get rid of one of the others. 

I still remember the day in 2010 when he told me he’d been drafted to serve on the new LA County Bicycle Advisory Committee. “Don’t tell your mother.” He was off of it a year later. I told mom, the day after he passed.

We’ve brought up our dad being a prolific home chef. To be sure, his ability to delegate played a role. If you failed to arrive an hour late for dinner, you were put to work in our kitchen as soon as you walked in. “But I brought wine,” you may have thought. 

His meals ranged from relatively simple Italian dishes to 12 course Indian dinners, all of them according to the rules of proper simmering and the laws of kashrut that he had set for our household. There were those Chinese dinners Mike has talked about. As I understood it, on those walks up to Chinatown he would also corner little old Chinese ladies. He probably did them favors. All we know is that their deepest, darkest secrets made their way onto our plates. 

Here’s something perhaps only his siblings know: Early in his life in the late 1940s or early 50s, he had successfully experimented with game theory. While it is very unlikely that he had studied John von Neumann’s “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior” which was published when he six, our dad came up with his own marbles game:

Dad cut holes in the top and bottom of a cereal box. He invited his classmates to drop a marble of theirs into one end of the box. If their marble exited from certain holes on the other side, the player would recover their marble and win one of dad’s. If it came out of a different hole, Dad would keep their precious marble. 

And here’s something you all know: The house always wins. 
He had made a study of the box, repeated drops with numerous marbles before he labeled those holes and made the rules. 

He told me this when I was around fifteen. I had, until then, simply stared at the massive jar he kept in our garage in which there sat perhaps a thousand marbles. Until I finally asked about them, I’d had no idea they were blood marbles. But as many of you know, well into his 82nd year, dad still had nearly all his marbles. I am looking forward to hearing more of these stories from his old friends and family in the coming days. 

Eulogy by Daughter Anya

Eulogy for Dad

Dad cared about every single person in this room. He had an expansive view of family and had many “bonus” daughters and sons—not just those that were married in – he loved Jason, Jen, Lin and Richard – but also Claudia and more recently, Neha. He loved all of my cousins and keeping up with their activities. He loved all of my close friends and created his own relationships with them. I imagine it was like that in all of his pockets of activity. Thank you all for coming to honor him and helping us to send him on his next journey.

What you may not know is that he did not come home and fill us in on all of his projects, we often found out about them from other people involved. I encourage you to write a note on the ForeverMissed site to fill us in.

Dad’s M.O. was fixing the world to make it a better place than it was when he arrived. In Judaism this is called Tikkun Olam. I encourage you all to be inspired by that and to honor him by following his example. By watching him, I learned that it only takes one person standing up to take responsibility for something to create positive change on your block, in your neighborhood, in our country, and world.

On our walks through the neighborhood to the beach he would pick up the trash on the street and drop it in the nearest trash can. The actual purpose of many beach trips was to pick up cans and bottles that were left by beach partiers strewn on the beach. (We cleaned up the beach and also learned a financial management lesson by recycling them for cash reward.)

When something needed the attention of the City …like a shopping cart dumped in the storm drain… he phoned it in. The City operator where I live knows my name now because I do the same thing. It’s not difficult, and thinking about it and saying to yourself “I live here, this is my responsibility.” And it only takes a few moments.

It starts from there. You don’t have to run for Chairman of the Board. Do what you can and make a difference.

Being a child of George Wolfberg felt like a lot to live up to. When we and our cousins were very young, he seemed gruff and often had that signature furrowed brow. He could be intimidating. But out in public, we saw him smiling and relaxed. And we all came to know we had pleased him when we got that big, rewarding grin! So many people commented on his big smile and how it comforted them in various ways.

As we got older we learned to relate to him on his level. We had interesting dinner conversations. My parents would frequently invite over their friends, and we kids were always included in the conversation and felt that our opinions mattered. He chose excellent friends and once he found them, they became part of the family.

For a period of time he gave me dinnertime homework – I would get an assignment and have to prepare it to present to him at dinner a few nights later. Mind you, this was in the days before laptops and Google. One assignment that sticks out was him handing me a single word: “Thanatopsis” --with no further details. At the public library I learned this was the name of a poem and I had to read it and explain what it was about.

It is a poem by William Cullen Bryant which says that we should enjoy nature, and we are all responsible for caring for it – it is our responsibility to care for nature for the next generation and it consoles us that we are all going to die one day and become a integrated with all of nature.

"…So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."
Dad he was a “teach by example” kind of guy and we kids had to watch him or follow him around as his assistant to learn from him, rather than the hands on experience. I got more assertive as I got older and asked if I could do whatever task was at hand.And I enjoy my memories of nailing up shingles and ceiling boards with him during their remodel when I was about 12 and proudly running conduit and wire through the crawl space for him.

When I asked him to teach me to surf, when I was about “this” tall, he had me crawl on top of his long board at the shore, gave me a big push out into the water and shouted “paddle hard” and headed back to his towel to read the paper! Needless to say, it was like laying on a cruise ship and I did not learn to surf until I was 40.

But in most other things he supported my learning….. Dad never said I could not do something I wanted to do – but did the opposite. Whatever I expressed interest in he tried to create ways for me to do it – music lessons for multiple instruments, art classes for 15 years, sports, travel. I’m so thankful for that.

He showed his love not with hugs and words, but showed his thoughtfulness about all of us on a daily basis in the little things he would do for us or bring home for us as a surprise. He did his best to support our goals and helped us to develop our own expertise in which he liked to learn from us and showed glowing pride.

For instance, I love to travel and he took me on the trip to review the World Cup soccer facilities in Italy when helping plan the LA World Cup. Instead of staying in the 5 star American style hotels, he was thrilled to have me plan a series of pensions where we could stay and get a more European experience.

It seems from all I’ve learned, he was a terrific mentor to employees at work. He did not push them into the waves and tell them to paddle hard, rather he coached and sent things back with guidance for a redo until they were done right. His employees seemed to really appreciate him and learn a lot under his tutelage. Many of them came to parties at our home and have kept in touch over the years and some of them have become like family. So many people have commented on what a great mentor he was for them. He was great at making gentle suggestions that caused you to think through your approach and move the ball forward.

Mom and Dad like to do everything themselves that they could possibly do. When they were first married, they built their first home and both tried to learn as much as they could from the contractors so they could do their own home repairs to keep expenses manageable. Dad learned enough about electrical that when they remodeled their current home, he did much of the electrical himself. True to form, when the inspector came, he asked “who was the electrician on this job?” Dad asked why? He said because it was the best work he’d ever seen! Mom was floored.

He was a great supporter of women---women’s sports, women politicians, women in the workplace. His wife and a large percent of his close friends are strong, smart women who set an example for me. And he made mom feel secure enough in their love that she became their friends, too. So I was raised to believe I could do anything I put my mind to. (OK, Except math.)

Dad and Mom were partners in all things. He liked to be out in the community taking action, she preferred to be at home. He did all the shopping and half of the cooking. But Mom made it possible for him to go out and accomplish so much for the community by encouraging and supporting his activism in every way.

I never once heard her complain that he was out exercising or out at another meeting. She was a full partner in his community accomplishments, she was a sounding board for ideas, and she helped behind the scenes and made it possible for him to spend the time achieving all he did in his tikkun olam efforts.

If you want to honor what Dad did that made your lives better…take a page from his book and know that it only takes one person to make a difference. Also, you can honor him by supporting Mom. He loved her so much and supported all of her interesting ideas and campaigns – like the leafblower ban.

I don’t live here any more, so I’m counting on all of you. Please make sure you see the book being sent around with the tree on it. If every one of you takes responsibility to contact her once this year, it will help her through this crushing grief.

Dad worked hard at everything and never seemed to be holding still until very recent years. In fact, he had a sign in his office that said “I’ll rest when I’m dead” – well Dad, you have truly earned your rest through all of your good works on behalf of us all. I will miss the hell out of you every day.