Golden Gate Member Passings

Our Lambda Alpha International Golden Gate Family has lost two of our Tribal Elders. These two individuals were remarkable luminaries within this land economics community as well as philanthropists and leaders within the San Francisco Civic and Jewish communities. We are thankful for how they shaped our built environment, and ask that you pause to remember the significant contributions that these folks made to our city, our culture and our LAI family.

Paul Woolford
President, LAI Golden Gate Chapter


Natalie Berg

Natalie Berg born August 22, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio died March 17, 2017. Her parents emigrated from central Europe to Cleveland and opened a dairy where Natalie worked after school and developed her strong work ethic. At Michigan State, she met her first husband, Irving. They moved to California, where he was stationed at Ford Ord, and she graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in economics.

In 1967, Natalie began a long career in public education. She obtained her Doctorate in Education while raising her three children as a single mother. She held many instructional and administrative positions at City College of San Francisco, retiring as Dean at the John Adams Campus. Natalie was first elected to the San Francisco Community College Board in 1996, and went on to serve three terms as President. The culmination of her long service came with an appointment by Governor Brown to serve on the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.

In addition to Natalie's commitment to public education, she was passionate about public service, mentoring young women, and developing training programs in the community colleges. Natalie's long tenure in politics began in 1964 as a volunteer on the campaign of her neighbor Willie Brown for Assembly. She was a founding member of the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club, a Chair of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, and a delegate to state democratic conventions.

When Natalie retired from City College at the age of 65, she began her second career in development working for Forest City. As the community liaison, Natalie was instrumental in creating the Westfield Center in San Francisco. She served on numerous boards and was selected as an Outstanding Women in Business four times, and honored multiple times by many civic and political organizations, including by Mayors of San Francisco.

Natalie's greatest devotion was to her family, who surrounded her with love during the time of her passing. Natalie imparted strength, integrity, loyalty, and devotion. She was pre-deceased by her husband Peter Finnegan (who is certainly winking that she passed on St. Patrick's Day.) She is survived by her children, Jonathan (Nicole) of Jerusalem, Joanna (Dan Finkelstein) and Jenny (Ray Plumhoff), both of Oakland, her step-children, Stephen Finnegan (Sandy) and Allison Etchevery (John) of San Francisco, 12 grandchildren (Mindy, Eli, Aaron, Blumi, Bruchi, Akiva, Rina, Jason, Alex, Myles, Cara, Catherine), and 17 great grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Esther Meckler of Cleveland, her brother, Milton Katz of San Francisco and her brother-in-law Paul Finnegan (Rita) of Carmel Valley. She was pre-deceased by her sister Faye Ratner.

Natalie lived with dementia for 6 years and died of cancer. She always retained her intense strength, ability to direct and organize, compassion, impeccable sense of style, high and beautiful cheekbones, and her steadfast caring. She will be missed but never forgotten, her mark has been deep and broad, and will live through her legacy. Services were held at Congregation Beth Sholom 301 - 14th Avenue on Wednesday, March 22 at 1:00 pm. Donations can be made to: City College of San Francisco Foundation or to the National Council of Jewish Women (Center for Women and Girls.)


Gerson Bakar

(March 12, 1928 - June 5, 2017)

Gerson Bakar, beloved husband of Barbara Bass Bakar, son of Cecilia and Gottleib Louis Bakar, and patriarch to his extended Bay Area family passed away at the age of 89 on June 5, 2017. Gerson was born March 12, 1928 in Petaluma where he grew up on his parents' chicken ranch.

Gerson became nationally recognized as a giant in the world of real estate development and philanthropy. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1948, he began developing small apartment buildings with his uncle Max Bakar to meet the pent-up post World War II demand for housing. He went on to develop several award winning apartment communities in San Mateo, Palo Alto, Newport Beach, and San Francisco including Woodlake, one of the first high amenity garden apartment communities nationally. During his career, his brand became associated with quality and integrity, allowing him to build over 20,000 dwelling units and millions of square feet of office space. He was also recognized for the masterpiece development of Levi's Plaza, which the SF Chronicle termed a "gift to the city."

Gerson Bakar strongly believed in the importance of a healthy community and his philanthropic contributions to the Bay Area were wide and deep. As one of the four founding members of the Bay Area Life Sciences Association (BALSA), he played a significant role in the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) being able to acquire, plan, and build the Mission Bay campus including the Bakar Cancer Hospital. Gerson's sustained commitment to his alma mater, UC Berkeley, included major support of the Haas Business School, Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, and the Berkeley Hillel. Additionally, he was a longtime trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art where he was instrumental in leading the effort to rebuild SFMOMA at a South of Market location, which revitalized the entire area.

He had a profound impact on Jewish community life as a major supporter and leader of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. In these roles, he spearheaded low income housing for Seniors at Menorah Park, sponsored a new, state of the art Jewish Community Center, and pioneered innovative residential services for the disabled at The Gary Shupin Independent Living Community through the Jewish Family and Children's Service (JFCS).

His appreciation of the need for more affordable housing led him to become a founding member of BRIDGE, a major not for profit affordable housing developer. His interest in supporting local educational institutions caused him to serve as a long term trustee of Dominican College.

In a 2013 interview when asked what he wished his legacy to be, Gerson responded: "I don't really need to be remembered, but I hope the organizations Barbara and I supported continue to be leaders in serving our community."

Gerson was predeceased by his parents, his sister Barbara Bakar Shupin, and his nephew Gary Shupin. He is survived by his wife Barbara Bass Bakar, his niece Adrienne Shupin Herman, his great-nieces Jessica Herman and Abigail Leonard, and his great-great-nephew Marcello Leonard.

Memorial Services were held on Friday, June 9th at 10:30 am at Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit Street, Oakland, California.

Contributions can be made to UC Berkeley Foundation for the Haas School of Business, 1995 University Avenue, Suite 400, Berkeley, CA, 94704; University of California, San Francisco Foundation for cancer research, 220 Montgomery Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94104; or the Achieve program, 201 Filbert Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA, 94133.



KeyNotes is the online publication of Lambda Alpha International and contains articles written by the members, chronicles chapter activities and successes, and celebrates member awards and accomplishments. Posts are distributed to the global membership and published within LAI’s social-media network. Check out the latest articles today!

Current articles  |  Article archive

Article Submission Guidelines


Upcoming Chapter Events