Portola Valley civic volunteer, pilot Bud Eisberg dies at 74


Portola Valley resident Bud Eisberg – a town volunteer in civic affairs for 25 years – was also a pilot for the U.S. Navy and commercial airlines, a sailor and a fan of winter sports. His civic activities included serving on the town's oversight panel on architectural and site development, its public works committee, and an ad hoc panel looking into the issues of affordable housing in town.

Arthur Charles "Bud" Eisberg died on Dec. 27 while in hospice care, his wife Lynn Eisberg said. He was 74.

A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, March 16, at Valley Presbyterian Church at 945 Portola Road in Portola Valley, to be followed by a celebration of life at the Community Hall nearby at 765 Portola Road.

Eisberg is remembered fondly by those close to him. His wife recalled the kindness in his eyes, a big welcoming smile and loyalty as qualities he was known for.

"He was just an all-around good guy," his friend Robert Fairbank told The Almanac. "He was always positive. If you were to design a person, or a friend, you would come up with all the attributes that Bud has."

"He was just a very dependable friend who was always there, always steadfast," his friend Everett Egginton said. "He was entirely selfless. I rarely, if ever, remember him bringing attention to himself."

Eisberg did bring attention to his and his Wyndham Drive neighbors' opposition to a Town Council plan in 2012 to build eight to 12 condominiums on a nearby former nursery site, residences intended for people who could not afford market-rate housing.

A fan of cottages as affordable housing, Eisberg told the council he was against "high-density housing squeezed onto the nursery parcel, which could set a precedent for other neighborhoods and adversely affect our scenic corridors."

Eisberg was a native of Georgia, and grew up in New Jersey, where he enjoyed sailing competitively and winter sports, his wife said. He graduated from Colgate University with a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in higher education administration.

During the Vietnam War and in his early 20s, Eisberg flew surveillance aircraft looking for enemy troops and supplies coming south, his friend Jim Schear said in an email.

"Bud was always a calming influence, especially for the junior enlisted Crewmembers who were even younger than us and responded well to his natural leadership," Schear said. "He was a gifted pilot, but an even better Mission Commander. To assign Bud a mission was to guarantee its success."

During those years, he was periodically deployed to Moffett Field in Mountain View, and lived in a rented house in Portola Valley. He came to love the town, Fairbank said.

Eisberg flew for several commercial airlines, ending his career with American Airlines. He once provided perspective for an Almanac story on residents' complaints about aircraft noise. The skies above the Bay Area are "a dynamic moving situation and it's extremely difficult, from an air-traffic controller's viewpoint, to manage," he said. "We're in an urban area."

Eisberg picked up the idea of public service from his father, who served on a borough council in New Jersey, his wife said in an email. "Bud enjoyed helping people and was very good at facilitating a compromise when he was on the Architectural & Site Control Commission," she said. He also never minded handling calls from a county dispatcher to address an after-hours public works emergency.

Eisberg ran unsuccessfully for a Town Council seat in 2013. "I ran a low-key, upfront, self-financed campaign and did not throw any darts at the others," he said, when asked to comment.

He enjoyed traveling with his family to their cabin at Lake Tahoe, car camping and chartering sailboats in the Caribbean Sea, his wife said. He was also a reader of biographies and autobiographies, and books on war, aviation and adventure, including works by Ernest K. Gann, Bill Barich and David Halberstam.

He is survived by his wife Lynn; and by his sons, Arthur Eisberg III of Burlingame, and Thomas John Eisberg of Portola Valley.

The family requests donations in his memory be made to, a nonprofit that supports winter sports for people with disabilities.


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Like this comment
Posted by Ken and Anna Buran
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2019 at 1:06 pm

God Bless you and your Wonderful family!

Our prayers
Kenny and Anna Buran

Like this comment
Posted by Phil VanderWilt
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2019 at 9:16 am

Bud and and I were fellow pilots at American Airlines. What a pleasure it was to fly with Bud. He was professional in every way with a natural, easy going way. There was always lots to talk about, and lots of laughs. Was so sorry to hear of his illness and death; his spirit will live on. My sympathies to his family and friends. My God bless each in a special way during this time of sadness.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom Vlasic
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2019 at 11:06 am

We have been traveling and just found out about Bud’s passing. I had the pleasure of working with Bud for many years during and after his service to the Town’s ASCC. He was a prince of a man and cared deeply about his community, architecture, and protecting the Portola Valley values. He loved his family and we shared many stories of family, skiing and just life as we watched our children grow. Linda and I extend our deepest sympathies to Lynn and the entire Eisberg family as you work through this time. To say Bud will be missed is a huge understatement.

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