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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 non-profit 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 hesitant 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 Grey 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, 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, PO Box 66073, Washington DC, 20035.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 24, 2013