February 3, 1921–February 15, 2013
With great sadness, we announce the death of Victor Honig, a true Renaissance man and champion of social justice in our community.
He was born in the Bronx, New York, and earned his BA from the City College of New York, the place he credits for his initial exposure to progressive politics. After serving in World War II as an Air Force radio operator, he became a Certified Public Accountant.
Victor met his wife, Lorraine, on a blind date in New York City in 1948, which they chose to spend marching together in the May Day Parade, when it was still a political event celebrating the labor movement. They then both attended the Progressive Party Convention in Philadelphia, with Victor as a delegate, and married a year later, in 1949. They subsequently moved to San Francisco in 1951.
Victor’s marriage of 64 years to Lorraine represented a true partnership of love and friendship, one in which they pursued their joint passions of travel, music, art, literature and politics. To many of their friends, theirs represented the model of what a marriage should be.
Victor made his mark in San Francisco as a fierce advocate for social justice, including a commitment to working for low-income housing, peace and civil rights. As an accountant, he used his expertise to hold those in power accountable, regularly scrutinizing the city, state and federal budgets. He was a co-founder of Accountants for the Public Interest and offered his skills to numerous nonprofit social change organizations, as their pro-bono accountant or as a board member teaching them the importance of diligent financial management. He had a diverse set of clients as an accountant, ranging from the City of Belvedere and various small businesses, to well-known individuals, such as the singer Odetta, and political groups such as the Black Panthers and the United Farm Workers.
From early on, he was a proud participant in the political left, an articulate spokesperson for any cause he chose, and never hesitated to take on and advocate for unpopular positions and causes. Throughout his decades in San Francisco, he was a steadfast participant in political demonstrations, particularly those opposing American involvement in Vietnam and Central America.
Though he owned and managed commercial real estate in San Francisco, and was an astute businessman, he often advocated for positions that were contrary to his personal benefit. He served on the Housing Commission of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, which he quit in a highly publicized 1970 controversy with then–Mayor Alioto because of the city’s lack of regard for the need to preserve low-income housing. He was one of the early leaders of the fight to preserve the International Hotel, was the Chair of the Citizens Committee on Yerba Buena Center, and led efforts to stop the development of the Moscone Center because it would eliminate a significant area of low-income housing in the South of Market area. He partnered with Mercy Housing to develop housing projects that provided affordable housing to low-income and senior citizens in San Francisco.
He served on numerous Boards of Directors including the Gray Panthers and Hospitality House, as well as the Board of KPFA and Pacifica Radio. As part of his efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons, he convinced the City of San Francisco to fund and distribute to every household a flyer explaining the consequences of a nuclear weapon hitting the city.
He was passionate about the environment, and was active in the fight to stop a freeway from running through Golden Gate Park. He was also the instigator of the effort to close Golden Gate Park to car traffic on Sundays. He pursued many personal interests, including baking, cooking and book-binding. He was passionate about music, and after his retirement became a volunteer disc jockey for KWMR radio station in Point Reyes, California, where each month he celebrated classical and world music. The Point Reyes peninsula was a place where he felt truly at peace.
Victor’s philanthropy also reflected his political passions, and over the years he and Lorraine provided ongoing financial support to community and national organizations working to advance equality, opportunity, justice and civil rights for low-income communities and communities of color.
His family was extremely important to him, including his wife, Lorraine, his daughters, Emily Honig, Lisa Honig and her partner Dale Schroedel, and his grandchildren, Jesse and Isabel. His family is grateful for the love and support of those who cared for him in his last years, including Ferdinand Mijares, Rosario To-Ong, Rolando Varo, Johnny Dumandel and the staff of the skilled nursing facility at the San Francisco Towers. Special thanks also to Colleen Martin and Babs Harband.
Victor was a person of unwavering integrity, incorruptible and deeply ethical. He was a passionate man, who channeled his deeply felt anger at the current state of society into efforts to create social change. We will miss his beaming and contagious smile, the twinkle in his eyes, and his unique wit, charm, intelligence and passion.
Donations can be made to the Center for Constitutional Rights, 666 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10012 or J Street, P.O. Box 66073, Washington, D.C. 20035.
Gerhard (Gerry) Lowenthal
January 16, 1932–February 20, 2013
Gerry passed away peacefully at home with his family after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Gerry was born in Berlin, Germany, and left for San Francisco in February 1939 with his parents, Max and Charlotte. He attended Washington High School and did his undergraduate and graduate work at San Francisco State University and U.C. Berkeley, focusing on a career in Education. After military service stationed in Europe, Gerry continued his professional career with the San Francisco Unified School District for the next 35 years. He began his career as a teacher, and then continued in the San Francisco school district for many years as a school administrator.
During his time in the schools, Gerry thrived in creating and maintaining top-flight classrooms and schools that were held out as models for what public schools could achieve. He also served as a leader in the administration of the school system, being elected President of the School Administrators’ Association. After retiring from the school district, he worked in real estate in San Francisco for many years. He was also a life-time leader and volunteer throughout the community, including serving on numerous Boards of Directors, including the Bureau of Jewish Education, Congregation Beth Israel Judea, JCRC, Jewish Family and Children’s Services and others.
Later in life, Gerry greatly enjoyed his time helping travelers in need at the San Francisco International Airport. When he was no longer able to work there, he very much missed his volunteer colleagues and the joy of helping others. Gerry was passionate about education, travel, music and friends, but particularly about spending time with his family.
Gerry was extraordinarily devoted to his family, including his parents, Max and Charlotte, and is survived by Elaine, his devoted wife of almost 60 years, his loving children, Larry and Steve Lowenthal and Julie Ewing, their spouses Carolyn, MaryJane and Bob, his grandchildren, Sean (Kamy), Justin, Jason, Audrey, Shana, Michael and Alison, his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Gene Handloff, and many loving nieces and nephews and their families.
Services were at Congregation Beth Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Theta Delta Xi, assisting children in need, 339 Magellan Ave., San Francisco, CA 94116 or a charity of your choice.
Walter Samuel Selig
From Lafayette, California
April 13, 1924–February 17, 2013
Beloved father of Lisa Selig Stanton, Naomi Selig and David Selig.
Devoted grandfather of Jacob Stanton and Joshua Stanton.
Beloved father-in-law of Charles Stanton
Walter is survived by his brother Henry Selig, his cousin Avram Peled, his brother-in-law Herb Dreifuss and his former wife Vera Selig, the mother of their three children.
Walter was born in Frankfurt, Germany, to his parents, Sigmund and Flora Selig, and died in his sleep at his daughter’s home surrounded by family in Cotati, California.
Walter escaped Nazi Germany and, being a Zionist, went to Israel before coming to this country. He returned to Israel to fight in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.
Walter was an accomplished analytical chemist and worked at the Lawrence Livermore Lab for over 30 years. He was an avid reader and loved classical music and Greek dancing. He will be remembered for his intelligence, directness, sense of humor and most importantly for his generosity.