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John Busterud

1921 - 2016
John Busterud Obituary
John A. Busterud

March 7, 1921 - January 4, 2016

Former California Assemblyman and Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality John A. Busterud passed away peacefully on January 4, 2016 at his home in San Rafael, California. He was 94 years old.

Throughout an accomplished career of public service spanning four decades, Mr. Busterud was deeply committed to environmental protection at the state, national and international levels. As a legislator in Sacramento and appointed official in Washington, he was widely respected on both sides of the aisle as a man of wisdom, integrity, moderation and good humor.

Mr. Busterud was born on March 7, 1921 in Coos Bay, Oregon. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Oregon in 1943, he served in WW II as an Infantry officer with the U.S. Army's 90th Infantry Division in the European Theater. During combat operations, his Battalion captured the vast German gold reserves and priceless art treasures deep in a salt mine in Merkers, Germany. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge for his service and would eventually retire from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. After the war, Mr. Busterud graduated from Yale Law School and moved to San Francisco to start his legal career with the firm of Brobeck, Phleger and Harrison.

In 1953 he married Anne Witwer and they were blessed with three children, John, James and Mollie. In addition to being a devoted husband and father, Mr. Busterud was a dedicated public servant. He served three terms as a California Assemblyman from 1956-1962, representing the 22nd District in San Francisco and eventually becoming Assembly Minority Leader. He was the last Republican Assemblyman to represent the Haight Ashbury.

Following his tenure in the Legislature, Mr. Busterud returned to the practice of law with the San Francisco firm of Broad, Busterud and Khourie. During this time he also served as President of the Commonwealth Club of California and President of the Committee to Save The Headlands. In this latter role, he was instrumental in the successful efforts to save the Marin Headlands and lay the groundwork for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

In 1971, President Nixon appointed Mr. Busterud to be the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environmental Quality. Subsequently, he served as a member and eventually Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality under President Ford. During his tenure at CEQ, he represented the United States as a delegate to the groundbreaking Law of the Sea Convention in Geneva, Switzerland. After his service in Washington, Mr. Busterud returned to California to found Resolve, an environmental mediation foundation.

During retirement Mr. Busterud enjoyed traveling with his beloved wife Anne and doting on his three children and seven grandchildren. He also authored "Below the Salt," a historical account of the 90th Division in WW II and its discovery of the German gold reserves at Merkers. He served as President of the Rotary Club of Palo Alto and was a long-time member of the Bohemian Club where he was on the Library Committee and an active member of the "Don't Give Up Your Day Job Chorus."

Mr. Busterud is predeceased by his beloved wife of 62 years, Anne, and parents Herbert and Mary. He is survived by his children John (Gretchen) Busterud, James Busterud and Mollie (Mike) Dunlap; grandchildren Becky and Tommy Busterud, Holt, Spencer and Ellie Dunlap, and Rachel and James Busterud, Jr.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Jan. 8 to Jan. 10, 2016
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