Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - February 19, 2010

Deaths

Joseph Berwald

John Joseph Berwald, a Palo Alto resident for 55 years, former Palo Alto City Council member and retired Standard Oil administrator, died Feb. 9 following five years of declining health relating to Alzheimer's disease. He was 92.

He and his wife of 66 years, Genevieve, moved to Palo Alto in 1954, where they raised their six children and became active members of the Catholic Church.

He joined Standard Oil in 1939 as a part-time service-station salesman in North Hollywood. When he retired from Standard Oil in 1984 he was senior adviser for public policy.

Following their marriage, the Berwalds moved 11 times in the following decade as he followed job assignments with Standard Oil.

He served on the Palo Alto council during the turbulent decade of 1967 to 1977, when there were a series of counterculture demonstrations in downtown Palo Alto and residents struggled over the city's policy toward growth versus slow growth.

He in the late 1960s proposed that an "environmental design study" be done on the Palo Alto foothills region, from west of U.S. Highway 280 to Skyline Ridge.

The study evolved from seeking ways to create environmentally sensitive low-density housing, as he envisioned it, into one that concluded it would be cheaper for the city to acquire foothills lands than to allow them to be developed due to the cost of infrastructure, services and schools compared to tax returns from the area.

He also served on the board of the Senior Coordinating Council of the Midpeninsula Area, Inc. (now Avenidas) and was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

In retirement, his energies extended far beyond the Palo Alto borders.

In 1979, he co-founded and became the first president of the nonprofit organization, Rescue Now International (RNI).

He is survived by Genevieve and their six children: Patricia Berwald-Jones, Janette Aljian, John R. (Suzanne), Michael (Allison), Matthew (Carla) and Mary; and by eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Alzheimer's Association.

Joseph Lewis

Joseph F. Lewis, 85, a former resident of Palo Alto, died Jan. 14.

A second-generation San Franciscan, he was born June 13, 1924, the eldest son of Bucey and Josephine (Cama) Lewis. He was a graduate of St. Ignatius and S.F. Junior College (serving as class president his freshman and sophomore years.) During WW II, he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy and, after his discharge, earned his college degree from U.C. Berkeley.

He received his law degree from Hastings College of the Law and practiced for three decades primarily in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto in the firms; Lewis, Scher and Fernandez, Lewis and Fonnesbeck and Lewis and Fortune. He tried a number of high-profile cases and volunteered his time in support of civil rights causes and political issues.

In 1962, he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for the State Senate seat serving Sunnyvale and San Jose. He served on the Democratic Central Committee of Santa Clara County for more than a decade.

In the mid-60's, he opened the Whisky A Go Go nightclub, which later became Wayne Manor, and helped revitalize downtown Sunnyvale. The latter, a Batman-themed rock club, was featured in Life Magazine as he lobbied the Sunnyvale town council to change the town's name to "Gotham City." Both clubs featured nationally known artists including Sly and the Family Stone, Johnny Rivers and the Platters.

He lived in Palo Alto for more than 40 years and spent his later years in San Francisco where he managed a variety of investments and developed real estate in Grass Valley.

He is survived by his four children from his first marriage to Sue Simanton: Todd, Shaun (Egbert), Garth and Scott Lewis; younger brother Jack; his wife of 11 years Margaret Boddie Lewis; eight grandchildren; former wife Fereshteh Khodadad; and many relatives and friends.

There will be a memorial celebration Sunday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. at the Stanford Park Hotel.

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