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Gerson Bakar


1928 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Gerson Bakar Obituary
March 12, 1928 - June 5, 2017 Gerson Bakar, beloved husband of Barbara Bass Bakar, son of Cecilia and Gottleib Louis Bakar, and patriarch to his extended Bay Area family, passed away at the age of 89 on June 5, 2017. Gerson was born March 12, 1928 in Petaluma where he grew up on his parents' chicken ranch. Gerson became nationally recognized as a giant in the world of real estate development and philanthropy. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1948, he began developing small apartment buildings with his uncle Max Bakar to meet the pent-up post World War II demand for housing. He went on to develop several award-winning apartment communities in San Mateo, Palo Alto, Newport Beach, and San Francisco including Woodlake, one of the first high amenity garden apartment communities nationally. During his career, his brand became associated with quality and integrity, allowing him to build over 20,000 dwelling units and millions of square feet of office space. He was also recognized for the masterpiece development of Levi's Plaza, which the SF Chronicle termed a "gift to the city." Gerson Bakar strongly believed in the importance of a healthy community and his philanthropic contributions to the Bay Area were wide and deep. As one of the four founding members of the Bay Area Life Sciences Association (BALSA), he played a significant role in the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) being able to acquire, plan, and build the Mission Bay campus including the Bakar Cancer Hospital. Gerson's sustained commitment to his alma mater, UC Berkeley, included major support of the Haas Business School, Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, and the Berkeley Hillel. Additionally, he was a longtime trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art where he was instrumental in leading the effort to rebuild SFMOMA at a South of Market location, which revitalized the entire area. He had a profound impact on Jewish community life as a major supporter and leader of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. In these roles, he spearheaded low income housing for Seniors at Menorah Park, sponsored a new, state-of-the-art Jewish Community Center, and pioneered innovative residential services for the disabled at The Gary Shupin Independent Living Community through the Jewish Family and Children's Service (JFCS). His appreciation of the need for more affordable housing led him to become a founding member of BRIDGE, a major not-for-profit affordable housing developer. His interest in supporting local educational institutions caused him to serve as a long-term trustee of Dominican College. In a 2013 interview when asked what he wished his legacy to be, Gerson responded: "I don't really need to be remembered, but I hope the organizations Barbara and I supported continue to be leaders in serving our community." Memorial Services will be held at 10:30 am on Friday, June 9th, 2017 at Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit Street, Oakland, California. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to UC Berkeley Foundation for the Haas School of Business, 1995 University Avenue, Suite 400, Berkeley, CA 94704; University of California, San Francisco Foundation for cancer research, 220 Montgomery Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104; or the Achieve program, 201 Filbert Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94133.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on June 8, 2017
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