Alan Axelrod, a man of fairness and decency, dies

When Rabbi Martin Weiner was a student at U.C. Berkeley, his fraternity's football team played against that of Alan Axelrod. The two men did not know each other well.

Facing off as linemen, Axelrod blocked Weiner in a way that Weiner thought was worthy of a penalty, and he told him so.

"He smiled, walked over to the officials and checked the rules," Weiner recalled. "He then walked back and apologized. We shook hands and the game went on."

That story "captures the true sense of fairness and decency that was so basic to Alan's spirit. How many college kids respond that way in a football game?"

Weiner related the anecdote with great sadness at Axelrod's funeral on Monday.

Axelrod, a San Francisco native, died on Saturday. He was 63.

As spiritual leader of Congregation Sherith Israel, Weiner had come to know Axelrod well as a member of his synagogue.

Axelrod was born and raised in San Francisco, attending Lowell High School and going on to U.C. Berkeley and Hastings College of Law.

He served in the United States Coast Guard in the 1960s, and practiced law in San Francisco for 38 years.

Axelrod had served on the board of trustees of Sherith Israel, and Weiner said that "Alan's good judgment and quiet, sure manner were most helpful in the deliberations of our synagogue board."

He was president of the board of directors of the Hebrew Free Loan Association. "Alan was that kind of person one meets very infrequently," said Irwin Wiener, the organization's executive director. "A man who talked calmly, listened intently and guided with compassion and understanding.

"In a complex world it was refreshing to meet and get to know a man who was so uncomplicated that you just felt as though you always knew him," he said.

Axelrod also served as president of the Concordia-Argonaut Club, and had been a board member of National Aid to the Visually Handicapped and the Seven Step Foundation.

"Alan earned the most admirable of accolades," the rabbi concluded. "He was a true mensch."

Axelrod is survived by his wife of 32 years, Patricia; his daughter Jill; and his sister Joanne Gordon.

Contributions in his memory may be sent to Hebrew Free Loan Association, 717 Market St., Suite 555, S. F., CA 94103.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."