Arnie Scher |
Arnie lost his battle with complications from Leukemia on June 26, 2013 at the age of 73.
Born and raised in Jersey City, NJ, he spent most of his adult life in the San Francisco Bay Area, the last years in Marin County. He and his late wife, Doris, had resided in San Francisco for over twenty years before she died of breast cancer in 1989. He then moved to a houseboat in Sausalito, and eventually to San Anselmo, his last residence.
Educated at Rutgers and Columbia, he attained a Master's Degree in rehabilitation counseling and entered the field in 1963 after spending his two year US Army obligation as a testing officer at New York City's historical induction Station at 39 Whitehall Street. After getting his MA in 1965, Arnie took a job for the state of California as a rehab counselor at the now closed Mendocino State Hospital in Ukiah. After a year there he moved into the agency's offices on Van Ness Avenue.
Soon before he met his wife in 1968, Arnie had become involved in the union movement to help better the services of the agency's disabled clients. He became the union's first state president and remained so until he resigned in 1970 to join his wife in France, where she was to study French. She had received a two month leave from Pan American Airways, where she was its first African American flight attendant, hired in 1964.
Upon returning to San Francisco, Arnie was asked to be a union rep for the Social Services Union, whose offices were in Oakland. After two years of representing the state's Rehab Counselors and Psychiatric Social Workers, as well as Marin County Social Workers and Probation Officers, he decided to try his hand at law school in 1972. However, after one year he realized his calling was in social services and he took a full time position in San Rafael with the new county honor farm as a vocational counselor. For the next 30 years, Arnie worked in various public and non-profit agencies as a probation officer, correctional counselor, and drug and alcohol abuse counselor.
Having been an athlete since playing in the streets of his neighborhood, Arnie was an avid basketball (high school, college, and US Army) and tennis player (San Francisco's Buena Vista Park and Mill Valley's Boyle Park). When he stopped playing hoops as he neared his 40th birthday, he decided to become a referee, which he did for 30 years in San Francisco, San Mateo and finally Marin, until he retired in 2011 at the age of 72. However, he still played in the game as the Assignor for the Golden Gate Officials Bureau.
Arnie and his wife traveled the world for over 20 years before she passed away in 1989. Since her passing he decided to explore California and the West on his own and later with his partner, Sharron. She still resides in Marin County.
He was a member of various groups and book clubs in Marin, as well as a couple of film groups and a local sports group that supported the concept of athletics as a guide to better learning by using the positive aspect of sport. In addition, Arnie was a recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian of the Year award in 2000, as a result of his many years of activism with the ACLU, Marin County's Affirmative Action Advisory Board, and assorted other activities.
Though not being a father to any children, he kept in touch with young ones with his work as a high school basketball official. Also he helped some of the friends' kids shoot the jump shot that he had learned and perfected since his own high school days. These friends are scattered throughout the United States and he would visit them quite often.
In his mid-fties, he took a one-day writing seminar on spiritual autobiography. As a result, he discovered a latent talent in the short essay. He wrote over 150 one to two page personal stories, culminating in 2003 with a published memoir, "Snapshots of My Soul".
Arnie is predeceased by his wife, Doris, & parents, Jack an Sadye Scher and is survived by his loving sister Deborah (Peter) Keresztury of Novato, Sharron Belson and her daughter, Ginny, who cared for Arnie during his illness, and many cousins from California and across the country and overseas.
And of course he is also survived by the members of his men's group, which has been meeting for almost 20 years, as well as his tennis friends, referee partners, book club members, members of local temples and the JCC, and all those who respected and loved his tolerance, openness, sense of humor and sense of justice.
Any donations in his name should go to the ACLU of Northern California, www.aclunc.org and the Center for Attitudinal Healing-North Bay, www.ahinternational.org, indicate North Bay for Arnie Scher as the recipient.
A Memorial Celebration of Arnie's Life will be held at a later date.