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Herbert Rosenthal

1935 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Herbert Rosenthal Obituary
Herbert M. Rosenthal

Jan 18, 1935 - Nov 18, 2017

On Saturday, November 18, 2017, Herbert Marshall Rosenthal, retired Executive Director of the State Bar of California(1987-1998), State Bar Foundation Emeritus, retired Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General (JAG Corp), and beloved father, grandfather, brother, Godfather and friend, passed away in Millbrae California. Herbert leaves behind a legacy of devotion to his family and friends, and a passionate commitment to public service, the arts and nature.

The firstborn of two sons, Herbert (affectionately known as Herb)was born on January 18, 1935 in Southern California to Samuel and Miriam Rosenthal. He graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School in West Los Angeles where he was a member of the Student Body Cabinet and the Nevians, the schools scholastic honor society. After graduation he attended University of California Los Angeles. Initially he set his sights on a career in teaching, but as a history major his interests turned to law. Upon graduating from UCLA he decided to attend Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. After passing the bar examination, in 1962, at the age of 27, he accepted a position as a staff attorney at the State Bar of California. This was the perfect fit as he discovered, that he liked being "on the cutting edge of new professional issue " and stayed on to serve the State Bar for three decades. Named general counsel in 1973, he was appointed as first executive director for the State Bar of California in 1987 and retired on his 63rd birthday in 1998,

During his 30 year tenure of public service, he steadfastly worked to expand legal services for the poor, improve the state's attorney-client relations and promote greater diversity in the profession. Upon retiring Chief Justice Ronald M. George described Herb as a kind and insightful leader who "helped navigate the bar through often difficult waters." Colleagues described Herb as a consensus builder, an excellent listener and a remarkably compassionate manager.

Herb's list of affiliations is lengthy, ranging from his work as chair of several American Bar Association projects and commissions, to his membership and tireless dedication on the governing boards of the California Appellate Project and the First District Appellate Project which helps inmates secure legal aid and representation.

Herb joined the army in 1960. Following six months of active duty and two years of the reserves Herb reenlisted and retired as a Lt. Colonel from Headquarter and Headquarters Company (HHC), 91st Division Staff Judge Advocate Office, Fort Baker, Sausalito Ca).

He loved the arts and served as Board President of the Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Kathak. He was past President and currently Vice President of the Board of World Arts West (The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival).

Since his youth he was an avid outdoors man. A member of Boy Scout Troop 64 of Beverly Hills and Explorer Post 16, he eventually became an Eagle Scout. One his fondest memories was leading an excursion to Mount Whitney in the John Muir Wilderness Area. His passion for nature carried on throughout his adult life, as his favorite pastime was to explore our beautiful State Parks with his family and friends. He generous contributions to the State Parks and organizations dedicated to the preservation of California's beautiful Redwoods.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wives Sandra Krause, Imelda Mancia Rosenthal, and Margarita Vela-Rosenthal. He is survived by his brother Henry Rosenthal(Arlene), his first wife and friend for 60+ years Barbara Surian, his children Lisa Learn(Michael), Virginia Coutts(Michael), stepchildren, Siegfried Mattern, Monica Kilgariff(Michael), Marissa Banks Pierce(James), Terry Stylze and grandchildren, Sean Learn, Allie Learn Myles, Samuel Learn, Michael Benjamin, Rachel and Rebekah Coutts, Michael Kevin, Madison, and Makaelyn Kilgariff , Isolde and Joaquin Pierce and Goddaughter Abigail Bereola.

A memorial service is being held Sunday January 14th at 2:30 at The Observation Post in The Presidio. 211 Lincoln Blvd. San Francisco, CA 94129.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Herbert Rosenthal's memory to

World Arts West/ San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival
Fort Mason Center
2 Marina Boulevard 
San Francisco, CA. 94123
 www.worldartswest.org / phone number: (415) 474-3914 
Sempervirens League Fund
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 11, 2018
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