Edmund L. Regalia
Feb 9, 1931 – Feb 6, 2018
Edmund L. Regalia, founding partner of Miller Starr Regalia, passed away on February 6th, just short of his 87th Birthday. Ed was born and raised with his younger sister, Ellene, in El Cerrito by parents Louis and Constance Gay Regalia. At age 13, Ed contracted spinal meningitis. After three days in a coma, following treatment with sulfa drugs, he recovered with a bad right leg limp. He strengthened the leg and cured the limp by working summers as a caddy at the El Cerrito Mira Vista Country Club. Graduating from El Cerrito High in 1948, Ed was active in school leadership, had legislative interests, was President of a social-civil rights club, and played the trombone.
Ed attended U.C. Berkeley where he joined the Naval ROTC and met lifetime friend Harry Miller. Summers were spent with the Navy in locations around the country and included traveling through the Panama Canal. He graduated with a degree in Political Science in 1952, Phi Beta Kappa. Ed reported immediately to San Diego where he served mainly on destroyers in the Pacific during the Korean War. Toward the end of his tour, Ed served as Legal Officer on his ship, The Laws. During his time with the Navy, Ed visited Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Hawaii. Ed retired from active service in 1955 as a Lieutenant.
After he left the military, Ed and his father Lou (a brick mason) built a house in El Cerrito. Ed learned many practical skills from his dad, such as building stone arbors, wooden decks, vegetable gardens, fountains, and repairing innumerable items around the house. In September 1955, Ed enrolled at Boalt Hall Law School at Cal where he met another lifetime friend, Marvin Starr. Also that September, Ed attended a dance on campus where he met Gwen Whiteford, working on her teaching credential.
Ed and Gwen were married July 1, 1956 at the Alameda Naval Air Station. The young couple then lived for a couple years in the house that Ed built. Ed received his L.L.B degree (later updated to J.D.) in 1958. He earned the Order of the Coif and served as Associate Editor of the California Law Review. Ed was the first member of his class to have a job when he was hired by Thelen, Marrin, Johnson and Bridges, a prominent San Francisco law firm. In 1958, Ed and Gwen purchased a new Eichler home in Walnut Creek where they welcomed three boys and a girl. Ed played the piano regularly and the children remember falling asleep to the sounds of Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F, expertly performed by Ed. The family later moved to a larger home in south Walnut Creek, surrounded by open space and wildlife.
In 1964 Ed joined Harry Miller and Marvin Starr to create Miller Starr Regalia, a law firm focusing on real property cases. Ed headed the trial department. Miller Starr Regalia expanded rapidly, and in 1971 moved their office to the Ordway Building in downtown Oakland. The firm subsequently opened several satellite offices in the Bay Area, including Walnut Creek, where it has been headquartered since 1996. During his time as a practicing attorney, Ed received numerous awards for his work and contributions to the legal field. The California State Bar Association sent him a commendation on his 50 Years as an Attorney, and the Real Property Law Section presented Ed and Marvin the Real Property Persons of the Year – Great Collaboration Award in 2016. Ed retired from long trials and took on the job of editor-in-chief of "Miller & Starr, California Real Estate," the most widely used and judicially recognized real estate treatise in California, which has been cited in higher court opinions. Ed served two terms on the California Law Revision Commission, appointed first by Governor Davis and re-appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Motivated by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968, Ed and other members of the Walnut Creek Democratic Club wanted to create a lasting memorial, and formed the Kennedy-King Memorial Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Ed prepared the incorporation papers and performed all the necessary legal work to create the Foundation, which established a scholarship fund for under-represented minority students. From 1968 through 2017, Ed served continuously on the Board where he oversaw $4.4 million in scholarships awarded to 750 students who had the financial need, the grades, and enough units from any of the Contra Costa County Community Colleges to transfer to a four-year university.
The growing family bought a condominium in North Lake Tahoe. The house was used in summer and winter and everyone but Ed and Gwen learned to ski. Friends, children, and dogs were all welcomed guests. Ed became interested in the history of Nevada so the family spent many days exploring and hiking through the Sierra Nevada. Starting in 1971, Ed and Gwen took many trips, visiting friends, Gwen's relatives in Great Britain, Ed's Family in Italy, and trips to Walnut Creek's sister cities of Siofok, Hungary and Noceto, Italy. They flew, drove, took trains and cruised through various parts of Europe and North America. There were several trips to France where son Phil and family were living.
Ed was also a community volunteer. He served on Homeowner's Boards, both as President and pro-bono legal advisor. He was on the Board of both the Diablo Symphony and the Walnut Creek Library Foundation. Ed also helped open space efforts, reviewing real property documents for local governments. He was recognized in the Congressional Record by Congressman George Miller, received a California Senate Resolution from Senator Ellen Corbett for his work on the California Law Revision Commission, and was recognized as a "Hometown Hero" by the Contra Costa Times on Sept. 3, 2013. The African-American Sports Hall of Fame presented Ed with the "Education Support Award" in 2014.
On September 2, 2008, Ed suffered a stroke which paralyzed his right side. Hard work on his part saw him regain his ability to speak and read. Ed learned to walk with a brace and cane, maneuver a wheel chair, and care for himself. He tended his garden, listened to music, exercised, and played with the dog. He lived life to the fullest, thanks to help from the YMCA ("Project Recovery") and dedicated caregivers. He is survived by a wonderful family: Gwen, his wife of 61 years, and children Doug (Susan), Ken (Ana), Phil (Tulay Adali), and Connie (Marc Kiefer); grandchildren Kirsten (Andy Sweatt), Jeannine (Mike Tucci), Blake, Valerie, Melissa, Greg, Stephanie (all Regalias) and Zane Kiefer; and three great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Ed's Life will be held on Sunday, March 11, 2018, at 3:00 p.m. at the Lesher Center on Civic Drive in downtown Walnut Creek. Remembrances may be made to Kennedy-King Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 2643, Martinez, CA 94553 or Hospice of the East Bay, Bruns House, 3470 Buskirk Avenue, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. View the online memorial for Edmund L. Regalia
Published by East Bay Times on Feb. 17, 2018.