Thursday, August 15, 2013 | return to: lifecycles, deaths



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Thomas H. Battat

In Calistoga on August 6, 2013 at age 50. Beloved husband of Jennifer Battat for 16 years; loving father of Jared and Lily Battat; devoted son of Harry and Patricia Battat; dear brother of Randy (Chris) Battat; brother-in-law of Anne (Nick) Germanacos, Linda (Andrew) Ach and Douglas (Ellen) Rosenberg; and loving uncle.

9_Gdeaths_Thomas_BattatTommy was a second-generation San Franciscan, a graduate of University High School and Stanford University, and President of the family import/export food business, Liberty Gold, which he joined in 1987. Tommy was also an energetic and relentless cheerleader for San Francisco sports teams, especially the Giants.

Memorial services were held on Sunday, August 11, 2013 at Congregation Emanu-El, S.F. In lieu of flowers, donations to Breakthrough (c/o San Francisco Day School, 350 Masonic Ave., S.F., CA 94118) or San Francisco University High School, Financial Aid Endowment Fund (3065 Jackson St., S.F., CA 94115) would be kindly appreciated.

Sinai Memorial Chapel

(925) 962-3636


Alfred Brown


Al Brown passed away on Saturday, August 10, in Palo Alto, in the presence of his wife, daughter, son and son-in-law. He was 82.

Al was a much-loved husband, father and grandfather. We remember him as a man with a big heart who was always interested in helping others. He touched the lives of many through his work and his friendships. He will be missed by many.

9_Gdeaths_Al_BrownAl was born June 1, 1931, in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up with his mother, three brothers and one sister in the Roxbury neighborhood. At age 13, during WWII, he began his career as a social worker, working at the Burroughs Newsboys Foundation Settlement House in downtown Boston and their summer camp at Agassiz Village in Maine. While attending graduate school at Boston University, he lived at the Norfolk Street Settlement House in Roxbury, Mass., working with street gangs. He received a Master’s in social work in 1959 from BU, where he was a member of Phi Alpha fraternity (now ZBT). As a BU undergraduate, he was also President of the Hillel Foundation. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

He married Diane Carl from Denver, Colorado, in 1959. Together they moved to Tucson, Arizona, where Al worked for the Jewish Community Center, and then to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he settled in San Mateo in 1968. He worked for 12 years at the San Francisco Dept. of Social Services, where he greatly improved the response of the agency during the tumultuous years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and where he aided San Francisco’s pioneering runaway youth shelters. He then moved to the federal government, where he worked for 25 years with the U.S. Children’s Bureau, assisting thousands of runaway youth by counseling and training staff at shelters.

Al is survived by his wife, Diane Brown, children Kara Cross and David Brown, and grandchildren Sam and Zoe. He was preceded in death by a grandson, Jonah Free Brown.

Contributions in Al’s memory may be made to a local organization for runaway youth, such as Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco and StarVista in San Carlos.

Sinai Memorial Chapel

(650) 369-3636


Morton Macks


September 26, 1919–August 7, 2013

Morton died peacefully in San Francisco at age 93. He was an extraordinarily kind and loyal man and will be profoundly missed by his family and many dear friends. He was predeceased by his wife, Ruth Wildberg Macks, and daughter Judy. He is survived by his two daughters, Janet and Katie, his five grandchildren Amara, Ariana, Jordan, Jamila and Sophie, sister-in-law Jean Wildberg and two nephews Richard and David. He was also predeceased by companion Irma Volpe.

Morton (“Mort,” “Morty”) lived a very full and rich life. He was a San Francisco native, graduated from Oakland High School and was a pilot with the 93rd Bomb Group in WWII. While he and Ruth raised their family in San Francisco, he was an active and integral member of many community boards and fully participated in numerous community events. He was a delightful, insightful and gracious man who, through humor and compassion, was part of the fabric of all of our lives. His keen wit and sense of humor made all around him laugh and smile. Our lives have been enriched in ways beyond measure and all who knew and loved Mort will miss him dearly.

Donations in Morton’s honor can be made to a charity of your choice.


Stephen J. (Steve) Potash


Stephen J. (Steve) Potash, age 68, a longtime public relations consultant specialized in Pacific Basin business, shipping and logistics, died August 2, 2013. With his wife of 43 years, Jeremy W. Potash, he established Potash & Company, Oakland CA. The firm represented leading international firms such as APL (formerly American President Lines), and also helped found and manage the nonprofit California-Asia Business Council (Cal-Asia).

9_Gdeaths_Steve_PotashSteve was born in Houston, TX on Feb. 25, 1945, son of Melvin L. Potash and Petrice Edelstein Potash. He grew up in El Paso. He was a 1967 graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where he met his future wife, Jeremy, and they were married in 1969 in “Little Bridges” at Pomona. He is survived by his son, Aaron Warner Potash, and his wife Maki Kasai, grandchildren Maximilian Blair and Mia Kasai; brother Mel (wife Adele), sister Pamela (husband Howard), nieces Lisa Erlanger Coopersmith and Renee Potash Dondes; godson Nguyen Ky (Ann Bui) and their children Landon and Jaden; sister-in-law Liz Gibney, brothers-in-law Michael Warner and Jon Warner, and beloved nieces and nephews.

As a founding member of the board of Cal-Asia, he managed the first postwar business friendship delegation to Vietnam in 1992, prior to the lifting of the U.S. embargo. Cal-Asia was later credited by the U.S. Commerce Department for helping bring about the eventual normalization of commercial and diplomatic relations with Vietnam — a focus and accomplishment that especially gratified him.

Besides his family, his greatest passion was collecting 19th-century paintings and lithographs depicting the ships of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, which brought miners to the California Gold Rush and, after 1867, brought Chinese and Japanese immigrants to America. He co-authored a book with his friend Dr. Robert J. Chandler, entitled “Gold, Silk, Pioneers & Mail: the Story of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company.”

Steve collected Chinese Export Silver or “China Trade” silver and his expertise was sought by collectors worldwide; the collection is now part of a planned China Trade museum in North Carolina. He and his wife also collected brass Chanukah lamps from the 17th-19th centuries and other Judaica.

At the time of his death he was a member of the Yerba Buena (S.F.) chapter of E Clampus Vitus; a Board Member of the Friends of the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library; and the Kaiser-Oakland chapter of Mended Hearts, where he also co-chaired the development of a heart-healthy cookbook entitled “To Life!” Steve had also served on the board of Temple Sinai.

The family welcomes donations to any of the following organizations: Temple Sinai, Oakland; Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley; Friends of the Maritime Museum Library of the S.F. Maritime National Historical Park; the Chinese Export Dept. of the Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem MA; Plan USA, Warwick, RI; or the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society, marked for the SS China Cabin, Tiburon, CA.



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