Long-time activist and Glen Park resident Barry Willdorf has passed away

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 12.19.35 PMBarry and Bonnie Willdorf lived at 556 Chenery Street for 41 years and just moved to Ingleside Terraces in September 2013.  Barry was active on the committee that formed after the old market burned down and was instrumental in making the new development viable.

Barry passed away peacefully at his home on February 1, 2014, surrounded by his family. The cause was leukemia. He had been treated for 8.5 years at Stanford, where he had received two stem cell transplants. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie of 45-years, three daughters, Megan Willdorf, Nina (Michael) Endelman, and Julia (Nick) Campins, and four grandchildren.

A life-long activist, Barry was born in New York on March 6, 1945. He grew up in Malden and in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Barry attended Colby College in Maine and the University of Manchester, in Manchester, England, where he studied history and economics. He attended Columbia Law School in New York, where he was an active member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), an anti-war organization. He and Bonnie Offner were married June 1968. After graduation from Columbia in 1969, he practiced law with the Legal Aid Society in New York City. He and Bonnie moved to Southern California in 1970, where he founded, near the height of the Vietnam War, the Southern California Military Law Project, an organization that defended servicemen charged with violations of military law. His semi-autobiographical novel, Bring the War Home!, is based on this period in their lives. Barry also co-authored a self-help book for military personnel. In 1971, he and Bonnie moved to San Francisco. Barry opened his law practice in San Francisco, practicing criminal, and eventually civil law. For many years, he practiced with his longtime legal partner, Laura Stevens. Over the course of several decades, he litigated hundreds of cases, representing employees, actors, artists, victims of investment and real estate fraud, and tenants.

In 2005, the San Francisco AIDS Legal Referral Panel named him Lawyer of the Year for groundbreaking work on behalf of AIDS patients, including the case of Daniels v. CVS. Barry often made headlines for the controversial cases he handled, including the wrongful death of a woman on welfare and the swindle of investors in a South African gold mine. In his last case, he and Laura won a multimillion dollar jury verdict against a Bay Area landlordwho regularly cheated his tenants out of their security deposits. As his legal career wound down and as he became a grandfather, he turned increasingly to writing and published five novels. Those who knew him remember him as a loyal friend, loving husband, father, and grandfather, a warm host, and a fierce advocate, ready to take a case, defend the defenseless and comfort the afflicted.

Funeral services at Beth Isreal Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco on Tuesday at 10:00a.m. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Hope Reichbach Fund,hopeforbrooklyn.com.


Barry did many, many things, including writing a historical novel.


Also a link to a bio he wrote for the 40th anniversary of the Columbia strike: http://www.columbia1968.com/barry-willdorf/

1 Comment

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One response to “Long-time activist and Glen Park resident Barry Willdorf has passed away

  1. sfjour

    Thanks for this well written mini-bio of a remarkable man. It comes too late for me to meet him, but there’s no doubt he’s left his mark for others to remember. His passing is a reminder that there are many interesting Glen Parkers amongst us that we take for granted until they’re gone.

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