In Memory

David N Bortin - Class Of 1943

David N Bortin

David Newmark Bortin, a founder of the Mount Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek and a lawyer who was active locally in the civil rights movement, died July 8, 2003 after a series of debilitating strokes.  He was 77. 

"He attended church as long as he was able," said the Reverend David Sammons.  "Even though he couldn't speak, he responded to the songs and the sermon," Sammons said.  "Unless there was some dire crisis, he was here on Sundays no matter what."

Mr. Bortin, who was born in St. Louis in 1925 and later moved to Pasadena, joined the United States Army Air Forces in 1943 for two years.  He then completed his education at UC Berkeley, where he received his law degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law.

Mr. Bortin moved to Contra Costa County in 1951 and opened a law practice in Walnut Creek.  Along with helping to found the Mount Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, he served as a lay leader and was active in the group's peace center.  "He did everything," Sammons said.  "He taught Sunday school.  He was the president of the congregation.  He sang; played guitar.  He chaired every committee.  He was our most respected elder."

Mr. Bortin was also on the board of numerous groups, including the Concord Rotary, the Friends of the Library, the ACLU, and the United Nations Association.  He was Walnut Creek's representative to the Contra Costa County Library Commission, and was the county's representative on the Bay Area Library Association.  Sammons said Mr. Bortin was instrumental in helping establish the Ygnacio Valley library branch.  "He loved books and learning, always did," Sammons said.

Rowena McGregor, a longtime friend of Mr. Bortin's said he was "in the forefront of civil rights in the area."  "David was always forthright," McGregor said.  "He said what he meant and he meant what he said.  He stood by what he said."

Mr. Bortin loved music, singing with the San Francisco Bach Chorus, the Oakland Symphony Chorus and the California Bach Society.  He also enjoyed traveling to other parts of the world with his wife of 43 years, Beverly.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Bortin is survived by a son, the Reverend Ben Bortin of Staten Island; a daughter, Millie Bortin; stepsons David and Peter Lawsky; brother Harry Bortin; sister Carol Aldrich; and numerous grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 2003