Almanac

News - July 7, 2010

Shorenstein: ardent fan of Portola Valley

by Dave Boyce

Real estate magnate Walter Shorenstein, a generous friend of the Democratic Party, an ardent fan of Portola Valley's character, and a not infrequent occupant of his Westridge Drive home, died of natural causes on Thursday, June 24, in San Francisco at the age of 95.

"Walter considered his Portola Valley home his Shangri-la and he spent a lot of time there," Shorenstein family spokesman Tim Gallen told The Almanac.

Former Portola Valley mayor Bill Lane, Mr. Shorenstein's neighbor on Westridge Drive, said he had been invited to Mr. Shorenstein's home about half a dozen times and that he once drove him home from an affair.

"He was a wonderful man," Mr. Lane said. "I liked his upbeat, positive attitude. He was very positive about living in Portola Valley."

Mr. Shorenstein had friends in high places. Mr. Gallen, who attended a June 28 memorial service for Mr. Shorenstein at San Francisco's Temple Emanu-El, said that "all the major Democrats (from the area) were there, and they all had stories to tell about how Walter advised them."

Among the guests, Mr. Gallen said, were Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Congressman George Miller, D-Martinez; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown; and California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton.

Former president Bill Clinton, who, Mr. Gallen said, had a letter read aloud at the June 28 memorial, once stopped by Mr. Shorenstein's Portola Valley home during his presidency for a fundraising event.

Democratic Party fundraising operatives will miss Mr. Shorenstein. The non-partisan campaign-finance-tracking website OpenSecrets.org shows him contributing $2,633,402 since 1989, the vast majority of it to candidates with a (D) after their names.

Mr. Shorenstein got a start in the logistics of managing complex operations with his training as a quartermaster in the Army Air Corps during World War II, according to material provided by his family. He advanced steadily and was a major managing supplies at the Pacific Theater embarkation point, now Travis Air Force Base, when the war ended.

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