Donald S. Tayer dies at 69 was AJCommittee president

Donald S. Tayer, a former president of the regional American Jewish Committee who served on a number of nonprofit boards, died of cancer last Friday. He was 69.

"A man of tremendous talents" is how Ernest Weiner, executive director of the San Francisco region of AJCommittee, described Tayer.

Originally from New York City, Tayer graduated from Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School. He moved to San Francisco in 1959, ultimately settling in Tiburon.

Tayer was the president of the regional AJCommittee from 1978 to 1982. Weiner called him "the most cultured leader this organization ever benefited from."

He served on its national board of directors for the past six years, and received its distinguished service award in 1987.

"He had a marvelous capacity to reach out into all segments of the community," said Weiner. "He did this in relationships with members of other ethnic and religious communities, and he was a gracious and welcoming friend to the members of the AJCommittee."

Tayer was concerned that political leaders be informed about the U.S.-Israel relationship, Weiner said.

The attorney also served on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council for about 12 years in the 1970s, including as its chairman.

As the JCRC works to establish relationships with other segments of the community, Tayer proved especially helpful in terms of the labor movement and the media, said Earl Raab, the JCRC's executive director emeritus.

"We had a strong line of communication between the JCRC and the media, which was very helpful to us."

A senior partner at the firm of Beeson, Tayer & Bodine, Tayer specialized in employee benefits and labor law.

He was an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University, and has been listed in "Best Lawyers in America" since 1987. He also served as chairman of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Tayer was executive secretary of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild. After retiring from that post in 1988, he continued to serve as counsel for members of AFTRA.

In August, he was recognized with National AFTRA's George Heller Memorial Gold Card, the highest honor bestowed by the union.

He was director on the board of the Marin Arts Council and the Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens, a project of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. He was president from 1989 to 1991, during which time the theater and visual arts galleries were constructed.

A former mayor of Tiburon, he held a seat on the city council from 1974 to 1978.

"This is a man of social justice," said his wife of 47 years, Joyce Tayer. "Don always worked with the highest ethics and with dignity in terms of caring for his working clients, and he taught me so much in life."

He is also survived by daughter Lisa Lance of Woodland, son Marc Tayer of Solana Beach, and four grandchildren.

Donations can be sent to The American Jewish Committee, 121 Steuart St., Suite 405, S.F., CA 94105.

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."