a lit memorial candle with a Sinai Memorial Chapel logo on it

Deaths for the week of Feb. 9, 2018

Sanford Diller

June 4, 1928–Feb. 2, 2018

Sanford Diller, the self-made founder and CEO of real estate development giant Prometheus Real Estate Group, whose intense drive and passion led to immeasurable progress in healthcare, the arts, education, youth leadership development, and civic spaces, died Friday of natural causes in Woodside, California.

Sanford was born and raised in San Francisco. His parents Jacob and Claire Diller emigrated from Austria. He received his BA from UC Berkeley, where he met his beloved wife Helen Samuels Diller z’’l, and he went on to UC Hastings and USF to study law and receive his JD.

After many years of practicing law, Sanford switched careers in 1965 and founded Prometheus Real Estate Group. Under his leadership and tutelage for over 50 years, Prometheus grew into one of the largest and most successful apartment development and investment companies in the San Francisco Bay Area with apartments and commercial projects throughout the West Coast with a major emphasis on Silicon Valley, Seattle and Portland.

Sanford always pushed for great design and was one of the first developers to design apartments that enabled the new growing renter demographic to live in spacious “homes” rather than the utilitarian boxes prevalent in the industry at that time. He developed thousands of award-winning apartments recognized nationally for their design, garden-style environments and innovation. He invested in high-quality projects designed and built for the long-term rather than the merchant-builder approach.

In his work, Sanford’s greatest pride came from cultivating, mentoring and challenging his employees. He always drove people to “look forward” and always “strive to do better.”  He was a mentor to so many in the apartment industry who now run successful companies and credit Sanford for their training.

In philanthropy, as in business, Sanford believed deeply in identifying, cultivating and supporting talented leaders.  One of his greatest pleasures in life was seeing the remarkable work that could be accomplished by trusting individuals to spread their wings, dream, and to think the unthinkable. Above all, he valued leadership that transformed ideas into action that achieved great results.

Sanford quietly planned and executed his and Helen’s philanthropy with a bold vision whether locally, nationally or globally.

At UCSF, Sanford and Helen catalyzed significant development and growth in health care through major funding of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Helen Diller Family Cancer Building at Mission Bay.  Sanford continued working with UCSF until his final days to execute bold plans for the future that will help ensure cutting-edge medical discovery, world-class patient treatment and access to the most expert health professionals for the benefit of the Bay Area and humanity.

Sanford and Helen also spearheaded major gifts to support public access to the arts through the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the SFMOMA and the DeYoung. In addition, he and Helen envisioned and made possible the Helen Diller family playgrounds at Julius Kahn Park, Mission Dolores Park and the new Civic Center playgrounds which are scheduled to open Feb. 14.

As the child of immigrants who fled Europe to escape persecution, Sanford always believed deeply in democratic and Jewish values, educating the next generation, supporting Israel as the Jewish homeland and giving back in a way that makes the world better than how he found it.  Through the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and the Helen Diller Supporting Foundation, Sanford and Helen created the international Diller Teen Leadership Program, the national Diller Tikkun Olam Award for teens, the Diller Educator Awards and many other programs that recognized, cultivated and inspired talent to ensure a vibrant Jewish community for future generations.

Sanford was predeceased by his wife Helen Diller, of blessed memory, and is survived by his daughter Jackie Safier, his sons Brad Diller and Ron Diller, his son-in-law Dan Safier, his daughter-in-law Emanuela Diller and his beloved grandchildren, Yoni, Joseph, Josh, Lauren, Ben, Roy and Danielle.

The family will be holding a private funeral service in Jerusalem, Israel, where Mr. Diller will be buried on the Mount of Olives. There will be no public memorial or public shiva.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Jewish Community Federation’s Diller Teen programs or the Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF.

(Sinai SF)


Carol Ann Edelman

June 1, 1937–Feb. 6, 2018

Carol Ann Edelman
Carol Ann Edelman

Beloved wife of Dr. Harvey Edelman: a beautiful old-fashioned couple truly in love throughout fifty-nine years of marriage. Loving mother of Harlan Edelman of San Francisco and Reid Edelman of Ukiah; cherished mother-in-law of Deborah Edelman of Ukiah. Amazing grandmother (as they always describe her) of Eli and Noah Edelman, in whom her deep love will live on.  Special treasured cousin of Ron and Sue Bachman of Oakland; adored sister-in-law of Elyce Melmon of Woodside. A resident of San Francisco from early childhood, she graduated from Lowell High School and went on to study at UC Berkeley, soon becoming an active member and resident of the AEPhi sorority.

Carol Ann maintained close, sincere, and valued friendships lasting for decades, some dating back to high school and some even forged during her years as a student at Alamo Elementary School. A keen observer of humanity with many fascinating stories to tell, Carol Ann was loved for her kindness, thoughtfulness, integrity and attention to detail.  She also demonstrated real interest in what people shared with her about their lives; thus, friends and relatives trusted her and confided in her, finding both wisdom and comfort in her perspective.

Carol Ann was an enthusiastic supporter of gender equality from the early 1970s (and perhaps even before then). She was delighted by the increasing numbers of women in public life, especially doctors, politicians, and newscasters (her favorites were Judy Woodroff and Rachel Maddow). For the most part, however, she did not choose that road for herself. She did serve for many years on the Museum Committee of Congregation Emanu-El. And while tennis and hiking attracted some of her energy in her younger years, her preferred activity, more often than not, was to stay home and experiment with a new recipe, or to prepare an old favorite (perhaps passed down to her from her own mother) for Friday dinner. She loved nothing more than to have family and close friends to her home for an elegant, carefully prepared, and delicious meal. She always welcomed her dinner guests with some well-chosen and poignant remarks, setting the tone for the evening with her natural warmth, humor, and affection. In a sense, her political role was to bring passionate, intelligent people together in a comfortable setting for an evening of rousing and stimulating discussion.

We will love you and miss you forever.  No funeral service is planned; there may be a small memorial gathering at a later date. Cause of death was metastatic breast cancer.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a charity of your choice.

(Sinai SF)


Jane Marcus

Oct. 20, 1948–Nov. 24, 2017

Jane Marcus
Jane Marcus

Jane Marcus, longtime resident of Palo Alto and Menlo Park, passed away unexpectedly at age 69 at her second home in Fort Bragg, California. She leaves an enduring legacy as a scholar, activist, mother, spouse and friend to the many people whose lives she touched. She was, and will remain, a superb example of the Jewish belief in tikkun olam, the imperative to help “heal the world” by putting religious principles into practice.

Born in New York City to Rita and Norman Marcus, she was raised in Baldwin, Long Island. Jane graduated from Chatham College in 1970, received a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972, and earned a Ph.D. in administration and policy analysis from Stanford’s School of Education in 1985. She was a longtime employee in the Information Technology Services group at Stanford.

Jane married Lew Mermelstein in 1974. They lived in Philadelphia until 1976, when they taught at the American School of Isfahan, Iran. Arriving in California in 1977, they settled in Palo Alto where they raised their son, Marc, and daughter, Molly.

Jane served on the board of Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, was the president of Congregation Beth Am Women for three terms and spent six years as board member for the Women of Reform Judaism. Jane was a founder of Beit R’fuah (House of Healing), a mental-health support group at Beth Am, which has served as a model for groups at other synagogues in the Bay Area. She was a board member of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center.

Jane was a longtime activist for the reform of the nation’s drug policies. She was a founding member of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative and a vital proponent in the passage of Proposition 215. She also was a Huffington Post blog contributor.

Jane will be deeply missed by husband Lew, son Marc, daughter Molly, daughter-in-law Jenn, mother Rita Marcus, sister Jo Ann Cagen, sister-in-law Ricki Moskovitz, aunt Vivian Feldstein and countless others whose lives were better for having known her.

Contributions in Jane’s memory can be made at Congregation Beth Am for Beit R’fuah or at Women of Reform Judaism for the WRJ Social Justice Fund in Memory of Jane Marcus.