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OBIT/Retired SF Senior Trial Court Judge Dorothy von Beroldingen Succumbs to Fatal Injury.

City Desks/Political, Metro & Legal Affairs Writers

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SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 20, 1999

Retired San Francisco Superior Court Judge Dorothy von Beroldingen, 84, died Sunday night at Saint Francis Hospital of complications resulting from a severe hip fracture sustained in her apartment on November 15.

Following surgery to repair the injury, she remained in critical condition for more than five weeks, battling pneumonia, multiple infections and a bleeding ulcer.

One of the most accomplished women in city history, von Beroldingen fought for more than six decades for equal rights and the advancement of women -- both in private industry and public service. In her capacities as an advertising executive, legal scholar, private attorney, city commissioner, city supervisor, and as the city's senior trial court judge, she achieved a long list of significant "firsts" for women.

Earlier this year, she announced her retirement from the bench after 22 years of consecutive judicial service to recover from spinal fractures, the result of osteoporosis, which had been held in check with medications and exercise since 1996. The disease resurfaced with unexpected severity after she began her last term in office.

Appointed to the San Francisco Municipal Court in 1977 by then-Governor Jerry Brown, Judge von Beroldingen ran unopposed three times to retain her seat before winning a tough re-election battle for a fourth term in June of 1998. Due to statewide court consolidation, she and her Municipal Court colleagues were elevated to the Superior Court at the end of 1998.

Her decision to run for re-election last year was made after consultation with leading San Francisco jurists, her family and her physician. All agreed that she was up to the rigors of a contested campaign and another term on the bench. The judge impressed many in San Francisco's political community with the vigor and energy she displayed on the campaign trail -- and continued to impress the legal community with her sharp wit and extensive legal knowledge.

She received numerous awards and commendations for her work on the bench, including being named 1995 Municipal Court Judge of the Year by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and the Queen's Bench Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. She regularly received high ratings from the San Francisco Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Reports.

From 1966 to 1977, von Beroldingen served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors -- only the third woman ever to serve as a member of the board. Re-elected twice, she was the first woman to chair the board's powerful Finance and Budget Committee and created the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Woman, an agency that fights gender discrimination in the workplace. She was also the first woman appointed to the Golden Gate Bridge Board.

In the early 1970s, she became the city's first elected official to envision and actively champion a bold concept for using underdeveloped land in the South of Market area to stimulate local economy, create affordable housing and increase jobs. Her concept evolved in later years to become the massive Mission Bay project.

Prior to her tenure as a Supervisor, von Beroldingen was the first woman appointed to the San Francisco Civil Service Commission, where she successfully halted a long-standing policy of discrimination in hiring and promoting minorities and members of the gay community to civil service positions.

As a charter member and the first executive vice president of the San Francisco Economic Opportunity Council in the early 1960s, she provided legal guidance and secured federal funding that launched the city's Head Start Program and the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation.

Von Beroldingen maintained a successful legal practice in the city before embarking on her judicial career. She also made an early mark in advertising and sales promotion, before pursuing her legal education at night and working as a law clerk during the day. She attended the University of San Francisco School of Law and San Francisco Law School, graduating cum laude in 1954.

Judge von Beroldingen is survived by one son, Paul von Beroldingen, 55, a San Francisco public relations consultant.

Divorced since 1947, her ex-husband, Linton von Beroldingen, was a former managing editor of the San Francisco Examiner. Now 91, he is retired and lives in Oregon.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 20, 1999
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