Peter Sloss, attorney and activist, dies at 75

As a prominent San Francisco attorney, Peter Sloss mixed with the Bay Area’s best and brightest. But nothing pleased him more than sitting down with a fourth-grader in the public schools and helping a child learn to read.

A volunteer tutor with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy (JCL), Sloss wrote in a 2004 newsletter: “Serving the community is a must for us all and spending an hour with a 9-year-old is as enjoyable a way of doing it as any I can imagine.”

Peter Sloss died July 7 following a brief illness. He was 75.

Sloss devoted himself to the local Jewish community in multiple ways, serving with the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, the Jewish Community Endowment Fund, the Osher Marin JCC, Mount Zion Hospital and the JCL, among others.

“He was a lovely person,” said JCL Director Roberta Rothman. “A very gentle man and a gentleman. He cared strongly about whatever issues he devoted himself to.”

Sloss chaired the JCL’s advisory committee for the past five years.

Born in San Francisco, Sloss was descended from prominent Jewish pioneer families — including the Fleishhackers, who came to the city in the mid-1800s and made their mark on post-Gold Rush San Francisco.

He graduated from Yale Law School and served in the Army before joining the S.F. law firm of Heller Ehrman. He later founded his own firm, Sloss and Becker, which represented large clients, including the California Dental Association.

It was in retirement that Sloss truly dedicated himself to service and volunteerism.

Besides terms on the federation board, Sloss was a longtime member of the JCF’s endowment committee and chaired the endowment’s Newhouse Fund and Kohn Fund advisory committees. He also was a director and chair of Mount Zion Hospital, a director and chair of the Institute on Aging, and a director of the Rosenberg Foundation and the Fleishhacker Foundation. He also served on the board of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

But working with children, especially at his “adopted” school of Bryant Elementary in San Francisco proved especially satisfying. In the same 2004 article he wrote for the JCL newsletter, Sloss wrote, “I believe my efforts are rewarding for the students, but I know without a doubt that nothing I have ever done has been more rewarding for me personally.”

Peter Sloss is survived by his wife Rebecca Martinez of San Francisco; daughter Hillary Sloss of Mill Valley, son Alan Sloss; grandsons Andrew and William of Penngrove; and sister Nancy Sloss of Washington, D.C. A memorial service will be held Sunday, Aug. 5 at 3 p.m. at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 229 Addison St., Berkeley.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.