William Dohrmann Evers
May 6, 1927 - June 28, 2017
It is required of a man that he should take part in the action and passion of his time, at the peril of being judged not to have lived. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Supreme Court Justice
Our beloved Bill, Dad, Grandpa, Pop Pop, "Morfar" and "Farfar" left us on June 28 at the age of 90. To sum up his life in just a few sentences is not easy, so let's start with one of his favorite sayings: "Intelligence, industry and integrity are the essentials for a successful life, and of these, integrity is the most important." And he did just that, living a life of integrity as a family man and businessman, and through his deep community involvement. With his keen mind and varied interests, he accomplished an extraordinary amount in his lifetime.
Bill, a fourth-generation Californian and member of the Dohrmann clan, was the youngest and last survivor of four siblings born to Al and Sepha Evers. He spent his first 14 years in Ross, Calif., then moved to San Francisco where he attended Lowell High School, was elected president of the senior class and graduated in 1945. After a short stint in the Navy, he attended Oregon State for a year, and then transferred to Yale, where he rowed crew and graduated with the Class of 1949. He continued to UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), where he received his law degree in 1952.
He began his law career as an associate at Chickering & Gregory in San Francisco, and after three years, moved to Washington, DC, to work as a legal assistant to SEC Commissioner Downey Orrick. He spent the majority of his career at Pettit, Evers & Martin, where he served as managing partner for 12 years. Under his leadership the firm grew from 7 to 70 lawyers. Among his many successes was the restructuring of Swenson's ice cream company.
Bill left the firm in 1978, and became head of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Economic Development under Mayors George Moscone and Dianne Feinstein. Bill traveled with Dianne to initiate the Shanghai-San Francisco "Sister City" program.
Bill was very proud of his deep involvement with civic and environmental organizations. These included the founding of the League to Save Lake Tahoe (1957) and the Planning and Conservation League (1965). He was also a founding force in the Greenbelt Alliance (originally People for Open Space), and served as president of SPUR (the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association) in 1977. He was on the board (also served as chair) of the Yosemite Institute (now Nature Bridge), and served on the council of the Wilderness Society for over 12 years. In addition, Bill was vice chair of the S.F. Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) for five years, and chair for three years. During this time he oversaw the creation of the San Francisco Waterfront Plan (1967-1975). Moreover, in the late 1950s, he was president of the Volunteers for Better Government. He chaired the Citizens Committee for Sign Improvement, which eradicated free-standing billboards in the residential areas of the city (1962-65). In addition, he was president of the California Roadside Council, which pushed highway design improvements in California (1964). Among numerous awards and honors, in 1978 SPUR awarded him a Silver SPUR for his civic contributions, and in 2012 Save the Bay honored him for his environmental contributions.
Bill became active in 2009 in supporting the Gladstone Institutes, where he was a member of the executive committee of the President's Council and chair of the Stem Cell Science Team. In 2013, he joined the board of Roots of Peace, and in 2016 was honored to receive their Global Citizens Award.
Bill was especially proud that in 1969 he was asked to go to Washington, DC, to review the status of environment regulation; he spent some days there and found it to be a mess. Upon returning to California, he wrote a white paper that he believed had some influence, as a few months later the Nixon administration created the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
In addition, Bill was involved in the founding of Alpine Meadows and Boreal Ridge ski resorts. He also served on the boards of Marin Country Day School and The Branson School.
Bill married Edwina Benington (Vassar, 1950) in 1950. They had four children, Elliot, Anne, John and Will—all residents of the Bay Area who have 10 children and one grandchild among them. After 26 years of marriage, Bill and Edwina parted amicably, and in 1978 Bill married Britte-Marie ("Bittan") Emblad. Bill helped raise, and later adopted, her two children, Marianne and Peter. Their three children brought his grandchild total to 13, and Bill loved them all equally. His greatest pride was his children and grandchildren.
Bill adored his family, and always found time for them. He enjoyed the outdoors, and loved hiking and skiing the Sierras with his kids. He ran daily for years, then rode his bike and walked. He and Bittan visited their cherished island of Anguilla in the Caribbean for many years, and traveled to many parts of the world, including China, Russia, the Middle East, India, Europe, Australia, South America, North Africa and Sweden, Bittan's home country.
Bill was a 25-year member of the Pacific Union Club, and a member for over 55 years of the Bohemian Club. He served as co-captain of his beloved Hill Billies, where many of his campmates were his dearest friends. His time at Bohemia was the perfect outlet for Bill, a Bohemian in every sense—with his love of learning, intellectual curiosity, and camaraderie. These were some of his most cherished and rewarding moments.
A remarkable man, with the highest ethical standards, outstanding leadership, unwavering commitment, respect for others, open mindedness to new ideas, and indomitable spirit, Bill was a true Californian and passionate American. He had an enormous impact on his family, as he did on all who came in contact with him.
Bill is survived by his wife Bittan, his children Elliot, Anne (Breck Hitz), John (Cynthia), Will (Melinda), Marianne, and Peter (Gillian); his grandchildren, Cecile (Ousmane Traoré), Vanessa (Marcela Priwin), Nicky, Ellie (Nick Skewes-Cox), Benington (Sabrina), Emily (James Colby), Willy, Katherine, Audrey, Elizabeth, Annika, Alexander, and Sophia; and his great grand-daughter, Sassondella Traoré.
If you wish to make a donation in Bill's name, these organizations were close to his heart: League to Save Lake Tahoe, Gladstone Institutes, and Roots of Peace. A celebration of Bill's life will be held September 6th. For information, please email WDEcelebration@gmail.com.