Vivian Berliner, a social worker for the City and County of San Francisco for over 2 decades, who in her retirement years served in many ways her beloved community of Marin County, passed away in comfort and with grace on Monday, May 3, 2021 at 95 years old.
Vivian was born and raised in San Francisco. Her parents David R. Fox and Rozsi "Rose" Fox (Biro), emigrated from Budapest, Hungary, both arriving at Ellis Island. They met in New York City and moved to San Francisco in the early 1920's to start a family. David designed custom prosthetic devices and spent his spare time and dollars betting on horses. Rose was a homemaker, volunteer "foster grandmother" at UCSF medical center, and inspired cook, re-imagining the pastries of the Austro-Hungarian empire for family and guests. Vivian was proud to declare her cooking skills terrible, preferring the race track and playing piano to the kitchen. Her younger brother, James R. Fox (d. 2019) was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and later worked as a psychologist at San Francisco State University, and colleges in North Carolina.
Vivian earned a B.A. degree from UC Berkeley in 1949. Among her dearest friends, her Sherman Hall Co-op sisters, "the Fearless Fourteen" all of whom went on to have careers in law, real estate, academia, and science in addition to raising children. After embarking on her social work career she married Jack W. Berliner, who had served in the US Marine Corps in the WWII Battle of Iwo Jima and later had a career as an accountant. They raised their daughter Laurie in San Anselmo. Jack died in 1970 at age 44 from a brain tumor.
During her long career with the San Francisco Department of Social Services she worked in many divisions, but her greatest love was in adoptions. Vivian was an early advocate for gay and lesbian adoption. In the fall of 1970, after the death of her husband Jack, she took a leave of absence to attain a Masters Degree in Social Work from Fresno State College (now University).
After retiring in 1989, her commitment to the welfare of others found expression in many volunteer pursuits: Marin County Grand Jury, Marin County Suicide Prevention Hotline, Terra Linda Senior Center, and San Rafael Goldenaires Senior Center where she served as President, Secretary, played on a bocce ball team, called bingo, and hosted many trips to Reno (gambling!) and cultural events (SF Gay Men's Chorus Christmas Holigays!). Vivian enjoyed hiking on Mount Tamalpais and was a member of the California Alpine Club, West Point Inn, and Sierra Club.
Vivian spent her final years at the Villa Marin Retirement Community. She is grateful for her many friendships and the loving care provided to her in her final days.
Vivian is survived by her daughter Laurie and her life partner B. Michael Hayes (Fairfax, CA) along with his children Dylan Hayes (Welches, OR) and Sean Hayes (Sebastopol, CA), her niece Elisa Sumakeris (Cary, NC) and nephew Greg Fox and his wife Becky (Clemmons, NC) and many beloved Fearless 14, Villa Marin and Goldenaires friends.
Please consider a donation in Vivian's memory to these 501(c)(3) organizations: San Rafael Goldenaires, 618 B Street, San Rafael, CA 94901; San Francisco Youth Foster Fund, P.O. Box 460086, San Francisco, CA 94146
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from May 7 to May 16, 2021.