In memoriam

Retired Administrative Law Judge Arnold (Arne) Greenberg died at his home in Tiburon last year on August 23. Hospice provided final care during his six-month battle with advanced prostat cancer.

Since 1982, he had presided over cases for the California Unemployment Appeals Board, or California Alcohol and Beverage Control Board, or Marin County’s Resolution Remedies.

Arne was born on the West Side of Chicago in 1928. Remembering his parents as being somewhat “less than observant,” he said it was his Grandmother Lask “who took me by the hand when I was 8 years old and enrolled me in Hebrew School,” which he continued until he was 15. “I became a Zionist at a very early age,” he recalled.

Arnold (Arne) Greenberg

He graduated from Indiana University in 1949. After joining the Air Force in 1951 and working to master strict military flying requirements, he sent a telegram to his father: “This is the happiest day of my life. I soloed. Use discretion in telling Mom.”

Going west to attend Boalt Hall Law School at Berkeley, he stayed in California after graduation, residing for most of his life in Mill Valley. He was a general law practitioner for 25 years, and among his clients were those who had suffered housing discrimination. He founded an arbitration nonprofit organization, “Dispute Resolution,” before arbitration was commonly used to settle disputes. He was an adjunct professor of law at two Bay Area universities.

He met his first wife, Jacqueline Katz, at a family party in Chicago. They were married in 1961. As Jackie Greenberg, she is the founder of the Marin County design firm Interior Spaces.

He had been single for a few years when he met writer and editor Sarah Fagan at a dinner party given by mutual friends, who had said to both of them, “It would just be nice to have six people, an even number.”

Reform Rabbi Martin Weiner performed Arne and Sarah’s wedding in 1985 at San Francisco’s Sherith Israel, where the Greenbergs joined the synagogue’s first Chavurah. They delivered food to AIDS patients in the Tenderloin as part of a Chavurah Chai project that later evolved into Chicken Soupers.

After they volunteered for the Jewish Family and Children’s Services’ One on One program to help recent Soviet émigrés with conversational English, they became great friends with former Leningrad engineering professors Lazar and Elena Shifrin and their 16-year-old daughter, Lila, a piano prodigy in the Soviet Union. The Shifrins didn’t have a piano. Arne found one and paid for its delivery to their San Francisco apartment. “A chance for a mitzvah,” he said.

He conducted more than 100 Bay Area weddings.

He taught Cosmology and Ascent of Man courses to residents of Delancey Street’s self-help rehabilitation program.

He enjoyed movies; music of all kinds; his men’s group called The Liar’s Club; world travel, including his stay on a kibbutz; fly fishing; lap swimming; scuba diving; river rafting; history reading; and the Democratic Party.

“I was the wrong political persuasion — the elephant wouldn’t let me on,” he joked about falling off an elephant in Nepal. He had successful shoulder surgery after returning to San Francisco with what his surgeon dubbed a “humpty dumpty fracture.”

He was fond of using Yiddish expressions. He did Scottish and Irish accents, among several others, as part of his travel stories. He loved making people laugh.

He also loved to sing and had never forgotten being a baritone chosen for Chicago’s all-city high school chorus of “Ode to Joy.” To sing something lighter — show tunes and standards — the Greenbergs joined an Emeritus Students College of Marin singing group organized by their friend Marlene Knox.

After Arne became ill and lay dying, Sarah sang to him some of the favorite songs they had sung together: “Time After Time” … “I Could Write a Book” … and “Our Love Is Here to Stay.”

His survivors include his former wife, widow, son, two daughters, four grandchildren, sister and brother-in-law, and several nieces and nephews.

He is buried at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, California.