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Obituaries for the week of April 1, 2022

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Richard H. Breiner

Feb. 28, 1935–Feb. 26, 2022

Richard H. Breiner
Richard H. Breiner

A longtime pillar in the Marin County legal community, having been a lawyer for 17 years and a judge on the Superior Court for 20 years, Judge Richard H. Breiner (“Dick” to his friends) died suddenly at home on Feb. 26, 2022. Dick was a mensch who was loved, cherished and respected beyond measure. He was totally devoted to his family and friends.

Dick was born in 1935 to Jimmy and Fannie Breiner, immigrants from Croatia and Ukraine, respectively, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1946 the family moved to University City, Missouri, where Jimmy and Fannie founded and ran Breiner’s Bakery.

Dick attended University City High School and Washington University before transferring to the University of Missouri in Columbia. He received his B.A. in history from the University of Missouri in 1957 (Phi Beta Kappa), and his Juris Doctor from the same university in 1961, where he was elected to the Law Review. As an ROTC graduate, he served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Fort Ord, California and in South Korea.

In 1959 Dick met Dorothy (“Dottie”) Landau in college and they wed in October 1960. They moved to San Francisco shortly after Dick’s law school graduation in 1961.

In San Francisco, Dick first worked for the U.S. Department of Labor, and then as an associate for Gladstein, Andersen, Leonard & Sibbett. In 1963, he and Dottie moved to Marin County.

In 1964, Dick answered a nationwide call from CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and SNCC (Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) for lawyers from around the country to go to Mississippi and take depositions of Blacks in that state who were not allowed to register to vote, resulting in losses for the newly formed Freedom Democratic Party. He bravely went to Mississippi, enduring threats on his life while there. The depositions were bound and delivered to the House of Representatives, and it is believed that those depositions helped facilitate the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

In 1965 Dick joined Bob Conn and others in a private law practice in San Rafael, handling business, real estate, personal injury, criminal and family law matters. Dick specialized in municipal and land use law. In subsequent years, they were joined by Bob Birkie, Gary Ragghianti, and Art Lusse.

Dick served as Deputy Public Defender for the County of Marin from 1965 to 1970. He also served as the Deputy City Attorney for the Town of Tiburon from 1965 to 1977, the City Attorney for the Town of Belvedere from 1976 to 1977, and Special Counsel for the Cities of San Rafael, Sausalito, Mill Valley and Ross. He was also the President of the Marin County Bar Association in 1977.

Dick was appointed to the Marin County Superior Court in 1977 by Governor Jerry Brown. He served as the Presiding Judge of the Marin County Superior Court in 1980-81, 1985, 1987-88 and 1993. He also served as Associate Judge Pro Tem on the California Court of Appeal in 1983, as  Associate Justice Pro Tem for the California Supreme Court in 1985, and Presiding Judge for the Marin County Superior Court Appellate Court in 1982 and 1984.  He was reelected to the Superior Court without opposition in 1978, 1984 and 1990. While on the bench, Judge Breiner had a reputation for being fair and respectful to everyone who entered his courtroom.

During his judicial tenure he was the chairman of the California Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Local Rules; co-founder, Benchmaster, and president of the McFetridge American Inns of Court; member of the California Trial Lawyers Association; and member of the California Judges Association (executive board, Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-President, chairman of the Judicial Ethics Committee and chair of the Code of Judicial Conducts Committee Revision).

Everyone who knew Dick appreciated his wit, his sense of humor, modesty, generosity, compassion and authenticity. Even in the courtroom, he managed to lighten the atmosphere with humor and levity. Those in the legal field lauded him for his brilliance in the law. He was a mentor to many and an inspiration to dozens of young people pursuing work in the legal field.

There was nothing more important to Dick than his family. He was a loving husband and father of his two children, Dan and Deborah. The family traveled to many places, including Europe, Asia, Hawaii, Mexico and all over the U.S. He was very proud of his children’s accomplishments and always supportive of their pursuits. Dick was also very proud and supportive of Dottie’s civic involvement, including her role as a San Rafael City Councilmember and Vice Mayor.

Dick was an avid biker, runner and skier, and enjoyed these activities with his close friends, two of whom, Gary Ragghianti and Henry Lasky, were his regular ski companions and among his closest lifelong friends.

Dick was an active member of Congregation Rodef Sholom. He served as president in 1968 and remained involved on the board for many years after that. In later years, he was a regular member of the Rodef Sholom Men’s Group.

Other community involvement included the following: trustee of Big Brothers of Marin; founding member and director/treasurer of the Marin County Park and Open Space Foundation; director of the Marin County Drug Abuse Advisory committee; member of the Board of Directors at the Branson School;  member of the Board of Trustees of the Marin County Law Library; director of the Marin County Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission; member of the Santa Sabina Center Lay Advisory Council; member of the Family Law Center Advisory Board; and member of the Board of the YMCA.

As a judge, he officiated dozens of weddings and presided over many adoptions, and couples praised him for the time he took to spend with them, getting to know them, and for supporting their families.

In 1995 Dick suffered a near-fatal, massive hemorrhagic stroke while bicycling on Mount Tamalpais with his regular Saturday bike group. Dick’s treating neurologist said that his brain bleed was the biggest bleed he’d seen in his career, and he said that Dick would never walk again or work again. Thanks to a lot of physical therapy, determination and a lifelong personal philosophy to never give up, he was walking and speaking again in less than a year, although he was paralyzed on his left side for the rest of his life. Dick said in an interview, “We never know how much strength we have … until we are tested.”

While he lost the ability to enjoy his favorite physical activities, he never gave up trying to regain and maintain mobility and regularly went to the Jewish Community Center and SF Fitness to work out with his favorite trainers, Jay Elliott, Mark Stoker and Todd Mikolajczyk. When confined to home due to Covid, he did what he could there, assisted and encouraged by his devoted and skillful care aide Nicky Magat, who steadfastly helped and encouraged him for 25 years. Dick was further weakened by pneumonia and advanced kidney disease in the summer of 2021, but that did not dim his enthusiasm or love of life. He was very grateful for all the excellent care he received from the medical community over the years.

After Dick’s stroke, despite the prediction that he’d never work again, he went back on the bench, and eventually retired in 1997. After his retirement, he worked as a mediator and arbitrator for Resolution Remedies for many years.

Dick received many awards, including Outstanding Graduate of the class of 1961 by the University of Missouri Law School Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity, and the California Judges Association President’s Award in 1992 for outstanding service to the California Judiciary. He was also honored by the Marin Family and Children’s Law Center, and he received (along with Dottie) the Bunny Luchetta Award from the Marin County League of Women Voters in recognition of their outstanding public service. Dick was also awarded the Legal Aid Community Service Award in 2004 and he was honored by the Consumer Attorneys of Marin for his outstanding record of professional service and contribution to the legal community and the State of California. In 2012, Dick was awarded the first ever Marin County Bar Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was again honored by the Legal Aid of Marin in 2019 (along with Dottie) with the Legal Legend Award for their support of Legal Aid and social justice.

Dick was predeceased by his parents, his brothers Marvin and Shelly, and his sister Judy. He is survived by Dottie, his son Dan (Hongjun), daughter Deborah (John), and grandchildren Tao and Benjamin. He is also survived by sisters-in-law Harriett Michael and Mimi Breiner, brother-in-law John Michael, and nieces and nephews Jerry Breiner, Sharon Waltrip, Rod David (Wendy), David Breiner (Sharie), Donna David, Michelle Breiner Driskill-Smith (Alex), Dan Michael (Lillian), Cynthia Michael Pascal (Greg) and Lisa Michael Burns (Jon).

Memorial donations may be made to Congregation Rodef Sholom, the SF-Marin Food Bank or the ACLU. The family had a private burial on March 1. A celebration of life will be held in the future.

Isabel Fredericson Handlon

Sept. 28, 1922–March 16, 2022

Isabel Fredericson Handlon
Isabel Fredericson Handlon

Isabel Fredericson Handlon, nee Isabella Isaacs, born Sept. 28, 1922, Cleveland, Ohio — departed March 16, 2022, Palo Alto, California, with family by her side. She was a Gestalt psychologist widely known for her expertise working with couples, groups and small organizations, and practiced until her early 90s.

Isabel attended Cleveland’s Glenville High School and the University of Chicago in the early 1940s before marrying her first husband, Emil Fredericson. They lived in Berkeley, California, Bar Harbor, Maine and Indianapolis, Indiana until moving back to Cleveland to be closer to family and raise their family. In her late 30s, Isabel went back to college, completing her studies at Case Western Reserve University, eventually attaining a Ph.D. in psychology (the first person in her family to earn a doctorate).

In her early career, she taught at Beachwood High School and was one of the first to introduce the study of race relations and social justice into the curriculum. She taught psychology at Baldwin Wallace and Oberlin College and was a senior faculty member of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute.

Upon remarrying in 1981, she moved back to California with her husband, Joseph Handlon, when he became chair of the psychology program at Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara. Isabel expanded her career teaching at Antioch University, the Pacific Institute and as a co-founder, with Joseph, of the Santa Barbara Gestalt Training Center. She was active in the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy and published numerous scholarly articles in the Gestalt Review and other publications. She contributed to the 1997 book “On Intimate Ground: A Gestalt Approach to Working with Couples,” which became a handbook for couples therapists.

In Santa Barbara, Isabel’s life flourished on many levels. She became a teacher, mentor and friend to many young psychologists in town. In her free time, you could always find her in the garden turning their small Mediterranean home into a lush villa. And all who visited will remember her super delicious guacamole fresh from their backyard avocado trees.

She and Joseph loved to travel to many places, especially up and down the coast, supporting the arts with attendances at the theater, opera, museums and exploring new restaurants. They were always looking for new challenges. In their 80s, they learned Italian and traveled to Italy for three months. Isabel traveled to China, as well, to conduct a workshop. Never an athlete, she even took up tai chi and helped cure herself of a chronic back condition.

Isabel will be missed by all of her students and colleagues and her extended and loving family. Her greatest joys were the occasions when she could gather her clan — dispersed from Cleveland to Florida, New York, California and Chicago — for Passover, Thanksgiving and other family events. She especially treasured time with her grandchildren — as did they, having nicknamed her “Grandma Belle.” We celebrate her near-century of joyful family life and decades of work for the happiness of others.

Isabel was preceded in death by her parents Sylvia and Morris Isaacs, husbands Emil Fredericson and Joseph Handlon, brother Harold (and sister-in-law Edith) Isaacs, and sister-in-law Elaine Isaacs. She is survived by her devoted brother David Isaacs, her beloved children Joel (Karla Moore) Fredericson, Ismailia (Ali) Rashid, Michael (Terri Yamamoto) Fredericson, and stepchildren Zena Handlon, Tony (Irene) Handlon and Josephine (Jerry) Blommer. Her adoring grandchildren will miss her dearly: Colin Fredericson, Donoma Fredericson, Kira Fredericson, Isaac Fredericson, Sadie Fredericson and Adina (Amit) Teibloom, as well as her many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Marilyn Naparst

May 3, 1935–Jan. 23, 2022

Marilyn Naparst
Marilyn Naparst

A Berkeley resident of 65 years, Marilyn died surrounded by her family. She was an independent and spirited 86-year-old until felled by a massive stroke in early August, from which she never recovered.

Marilyn (née Avrushin) was born in Detroit, an only child raised by a team of three: mother Marion, father Harry and her Aunt Bea. She graduated from Wayne State University. Itching to escape Detroit in the repressive 1950s, Marilyn considered joining the Foreign Service, instead settling for a move to California to attend the MSW program at UC Berkeley. Realizing that she’d prefer to teach over social work, she switched to the teaching credential program.

Shortly after arriving, Marilyn met Stan Naparst at a graduate student event, and in 1959 they were married. Marilyn then devoted the next number of years to being a stay-at-home mom of three children. While busy managing a family, Marilyn managed to find the time and energy to dive headfirst into all that 1960s Berkeley had to offer. She became a potter and painter. She joined a feminist consciousness raising group and has been a continuous subscriber to Ms. Magazine from the first issue.
She and Stan brought the family to political protests and performance events of all kinds. She immersed herself in Bay Area experimental theater and even starred in a play at the Blake Street Hawkeyes in the mid-’80s, where Whoopi Goldberg got her start. As Marilyn told it, when the play opened, Whoopi herself came and gave her a congratulatory hug. Her grandest artistic passion by far was dancing: Greek folk dancing, belly dancing, Flamenco and modern dance. Not only an artist, she was also an arts aficionado, subscribing to various local companies and attending performances of all kinds. She also loved going to the movies and museums. In truth, Marilyn had an openness and spontaneity about her that was rare, and would happily say “yes” to just about any invitation.

Marilyn returned to the workforce in her late 30s and spent many years doing administrative work, eventually becoming the director of support services for a finance company. When Stan became ill with cancer, she decided to leave that job in order to simplify her life. From then on, she worked in various secretarial positions, including a methadone clinic and a law office. She worked at the law office until the age of 84, when the office closed due to the Covid lockdown.

When Stan died in 1994, Marilyn was only 59 years old, still with a lot of energy and a long life ahead of her. Having spent many years enjoying artistic pursuits, and casting about for a way to live meaningfully in her widowhood, she found a new calling as a political activist. Stan had been very active politically, so it was as though she was continuing his legacy. She took a special interest in social justice issues pertaining to Latin America, and over the years made many political mission trips with various groups to Cuba and other countries.

While busy with work, political activity and various artistic pursuits, Marilyn always found time for friends and family. In fact, being in the presence of loved ones was always like food and water to Marilyn — the experiences that sustained her the most.

She is survived by her daughters Lise and Diana, son Tom, grandchildren Monica (Paul), Noah (Sarah) and Lila, various cousins, and many comrades/friends in the arts and social justice worlds.

Donations in Marilyn’s memory can be made to Planned Parenthood, Ms. Magazine, Marin Interfaith Task Force, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Ashkenaz Music and Dance Center, La Peña Cultural Center, KPFA or Sierra Club.

Many have described Marilyn as a “force of nature.” May Marilyn’s memory continue to bless and inspire all who knew her. We will greatly miss her raucous laugh, passionate spark, quirkiness, spontaneity, adventurousness and, most of all, her generous loving spirit.

Freddy Seidel

In memory of Freddy Seidel, love your cousin Bela Martin.

Miriam Friedman Zinn

Oct. 17, 1927–Feb. 24, 2022

Miriam Friedman Zinn
Miriam Friedman Zinn

The family of Miriam (Mimi) Friedman Zinn is sad to announce the death of their beloved mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and dear friend on Feb. 24, 2022.

A proud third-generation San Franciscan, Mimi was born on Oct. 17, 1927 to Alfred Friedman and Gertrude Bruckner Friedman. She was the beloved wife of Marvin Zinn (deceased); mother of Loryn Zinn Morton (deceased) (Robert), David Zinn (Lydia), Helene (Lani) Zinn Losk and Adina Zinn (Michael Spiegel); the Bubbie of Mandy Losk and Jordan and Jacob Spiegel; the Grandma of Jessica, Nathaniel and Jonathan (Christine) Morton; and the great-grandmother of Bernadette Morton. She was “Aunt Mimi” to Linda Seeman Keeble (Bob), Alisa Seeman, Leonard Seeman (deceased) (Robyn), Rachel Zinn (Michael Bowers), Daniel Zinn (Carrie), Hannah Zinn Kirschner (Gerrit), Sarah Zinn Vogel (Rick), Jonathan Zinn and Jeremy Zinn.

Mimi was a genuinely nice human being with no agenda other than to be supportive to those she loved unconditionally. In her quiet, non-whiny, rarified guilt-free way, she traveled through her life, calmly, dependably and with a great sense of humor. Mimi absolutely loved being a mother and was superb at being one.

It was love at first sight for Mimi and Marvin as they shared every possible life journey together for almost 73 years. Together they camped through Europe and the U.S., spent many summers in Israel, and annually ventured to Jackson Hole and Lake Tahoe.

Mimi had a good long life, and those who were lucky enough to have known her are better for having had her in their lives.

To honor Mimi’s memory, donations should be made to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU or to a charity of your choice.