Category Archives: Generation 5


SUSAN MILA LIGDAFemale View treeBorn: 1936-10-07
Children: none

Susan was the second child and only daughter born to Victor and Caroline Ligda.

After graduating from Presidio Jr. High School in 1951, Susan attended George Washington High School in San Francisco.  She was an excellent student and was elected Vice President of her Sophomore Class.  She graduated in 1954.

Susan attended San Francisco City College for the 1954-55 school year.  To earn spending money, she took a part time job at Mannings Cafeteria where she met and began dating Paul Lindstedt who was beginning a career in the restaurant industry.  In the Fall of 1955, Susan transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, but she was more interested in developing her relationship with Paul than in remaining in school to earn a degree.  Her mother, hoping the romance would cool, arranged for Susan to join her brother, Paul, on a tour of Europe after his graduation from college in 1956.  With her mother, Susan flew to New York where she and Paul sailed for Europe on the Queen Elizabeth I on February 17, 1956.  They joined a tour in Southampton which took them on a month long tour ending in Paris.  During the trip, Susan used her available savings to shop for things she felt she would need after her marriage.  When the tour ended, Paul extended his stay, but Susan came home.  She and Paul 1 were married on August 19, 1956.

The Lindstedts’ first home was a rented apartment on Geary Boulevard, a few blocks from her mother’s home at 34 Pt. Lobos.  Shortly thereafter, her mother helped them with the purchase of their first home at 1224 South Mayfair in the Westlake District of Daly City.

From the beginning of their marriage, Susan and Paul were active members of their church.  They had three children, all born in San Francisco while they lived in Westlake: Pamela Sue born October 8, 1957; David Paul born March 18, 1959; and Paul Michael born May 10, 1961.  Their children were all raised in the church with Christian backgrounds.

In 1965, Paul was given the opportunity of managing a new Mannings Restaurant opening in Rossmoor in the East Bay.  The Lindstedts sold their home in Westlake and moved to Walnut Creek where they bought a home at 927 Quiet Place Court.  Paul remained with Mannings until 1969 when he resigned to accept an offer from Robert E. Farrell to join his growing chain of Ice Cream Parlours.  In 1971, Paul was promoted to Vice President of Operations in Portland.  The Lindstedts moved to Oregon where they bought a new home at 73 Touchstone Drive in Lake Oswego.  All three of their children graduated from Lake Oswego High.  Pamela and David went on to graduate from the University of Oregon. 2  Paul would begin his college work there, but later transfer to Long Beach State University where he graduated.

Bob Farrell eventually sold Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlours to Marriotts.  Over a period, that company brought in their own people for the management positions.  Paul was squeezed out in 1976.  For several months, he was unable to find work.  Susan noted, in e

xplaining why they could not come to California to attend her brother’s wedding in August of 1977: “We know God has something in store for us but . . . may wait until the very end of our endurance to supply.  In the meantime, we need to be careful with what money we have . . .”  Paul ultimately put his job hunt on hold to open a restaurant he named Pamburger.  Every member of the family chipped in to make the venture a success.   David cooked three nights/week while he was home from college.

In 1979, Paul sold Pamburger and the Lindstedts returned to California.  They bought a home at 847 Valparaiso Avenue in Menlo Park.   While Paul worked in various capacities in the food service industry, Susan took a job as an aide to refugee students in the Sequoia Unified High School District.  Her work as an aide provided the opportunity to tutor many of the students in the schools as well as other refugees connected with the Peninsula Bible Church she attended.  Susan took a deep liking to those she taught.  She and Paul welcomed many of her students as a part of their family.

Pamela married Michael Cook in Portland on July 23, 1983.[refMike and Pamela Cook had four children: Jason Michael born April 3, 1987; Garrett Paul born November 21, 1989; Caroline Ashley born September 30, 1991; and Annelise born September 17, 1993.[/ref]

David married Ruth DeHart in California on May 12, 1984. 3

In 1995, Jim Omundson, a close friend of the Lindstedts, offered Paul a partnership in a restaurant to be built in Newberg, Oregon.  Paul accepted.  The Lindstedts sold their home in Menlo Park.  With the profits from that sale, they moved to Newberg where, with Jim Omundson’s help, they built a new home at 14450 NE Rex Hill Court.  The restaurant, JP Founders, opened in July, 1996.  Despite the Lindstedts best efforts,  JP Founders did not attract enough business to allow payment of the construction loans.  After less than two years, the restaurant had to be sold at a considerable loss.  The Lindstedts sold their home in Newberg and moved to Siskiyou County, California where they purchased a smaller home on 25 acres at 734 Oak Hill Lane in Ft. Jones.  Susan commented: “We’re loving the beauty, quiet, and luxury of 25 acres, none of which has to be tended to . . . The sheep graze on the dried grass and that’s enough to keep it down.”


  1. Paul Arnold Lindstedt was born June 14, 1936 in San Francisco.  He was a graduate of Lincoln High School in that city
  2. David graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Journalism/Advertising in June, 1981.
  3. David and Ruth had four children: Michele Kristine born March 1, 1987; Michael David born February 26, 1989; Kayla Marie born November 3, 1991; and Jacob William born October 24, 1996.


PAUL CHARLES LIGDAMale View treeBorn: 1934-07-13

I was the first child born to Victor and Caroline Ligda.  I was baptized on October 28, 1934 at St. Peters Episcopal Church in Oakland.  My sister, Susan Mila, was born two years later on October 7, 1936.  Until our cousin, Alan, was born on June 4, 1942, my sister and I represented the fifth recorded generation of Ligdas and I the one who would carry the family name.  I  have recollections of my adult relatives making quite a fuss over me – my Grandmother Ligda in particular.

My early recollections are of family moves connected with my father’s World War II military service.  I attended grammar schools in Garden Grove and Santa Ana, California, Carlsbad, New Mexico, Chicago, Illinois, and San Antonio, Texas 1 where I was exposed to racial prejudice against Mexican-Americans.  I did not understand it.  My parents never spoke despairingly of any group.  I enjoyed the travel.  My father told me he had been in each of the 48 states.  I resolved that I too would someday visit every state. 2

In 1945, we returned to our home at 559 44th Avenue in San Francisco’s Richmond District.  I attended Lafayette Grammar School where I was an above average, but hardly outstanding, student.  George Snell was my best friend.  We each had paper routes which we often delivered together.  George’s father worked for N. B. C. Radio.  He quit his job to open his own radio station, KEEN, in San Jose, California.  George had to move, but he did live with our family until the end of the school year.  Those were wonderful times; and I missed George when he left for his new home. 3

After graduating from Lafayette Grammar School, I attended Presidio Junior High School.  I recall being an above average student 4 and athlete.  These years were marked by my parents’ divorce.  After my father left home we never saw him.  I had a great deal of respect and admiration for my father, but I have no recollection of missing him.  I remembered the many things he had done before he left: replacing much of the exterior of our house to repair termite damage; creating a room out of an area of our basement; making a wood and canvas top for his war surplus jeep; and doing all the repairs on Grandma Ligda’s home in Berkeley.  In addition, he upholstered furniture, sewed, and did car repairs.  However, I was not invited to participate in my father’s projects.  He did take me to local college football games where he had an extra job taking tickets.  He let me in free.  Later, he arranged that I could sell programs to earn pocket money.

My mother became my dual parent and authority figure.  I remember weighty discussions with my mom and sister as we decided how to spend what little discretionary money existed at the end of each month.  I recall my father coming to see me when I graduated from Presidio in 1949.  We were having a family dinner in a restaurant.  He got up abruptly, said he had to leave, and left me 50 cents as a graduation gift.  I felt very awkward and somewhat relieved he was gone.

I attended George Washington High School in San Francisco where I developed a close circle of friends. 5  My mother was extremely fond of my friends and made them welcome in our home.  We talked, listened to records, and played cards.  Hearts was our favorite game.  As my mother became successful in real estate 6 and could afford it, she rented a cabin at Russian River each summer where all my friends and Susan’s were welcome.  We went to the Friday night dances in Rio Nido, laid on the beach, and snuck an occasional beer.

My high school years were not distinguished.  I played junior varsity football, had a minor role in our senior play, and earned average grades. 7  Many of my teachers felt I lacked an interest in achieving.  In fact, the principal once predicted I would never amount to much.  None of this bothered me.  I enjoyed high school and my friends.  I knew I was going to college when I graduated.  I was not concerned about what I would do for a living after college.  When people asked me what I planned to be, I told them I was going to be President.

I graduated from high school in 1952.  It was a wonderful year.  I remember the frantic feeling I shared with my friends when we realized we had to get dates for the Senior Prom – none of us had steady girl friends.  We were afraid to ask for fear of being turned down, but worried about delay for fear all the neat girls would be taken.  I finally worked up the courage to ask Jackie Moore.  She accepted.  By the time the Prom arrived, I had a new girl friend, Bobbie Swanson.  There was no backing out, however.  Jackie and I went to the prom and had a good time.  I took Bobbie out after my graduation night.

In the summer of 1952, Gil Ward and I took jobs as carpenters’ helpers in building the apartments off John Daly Boulevard in Westlake, Daly City.  We worked just long enough to earn money to finance a hitch hiking trip across the country.  We had a grand time visiting relative after relative all the way to Massachusetts.  There we visited my Uncle Herb who was working on his doctorate.  It was my first trip to the East Coast.  I was thrilled that I was adding so many of the states to my list of places visited.  My mother made the trip even more memorable by purchasing a new Buick which we picked up in Flint, Michigan on the way back.  There was a catch.  We had to pick up my Aunt Gertrude and Cousin Freddie in Chicago and bring them to California for a visit.  On the way back, we stopped in northern California to visit our friends, John Finnell and Ray L’Esperance, who had summer jobs with the Forest Service.  They talked us into driving the Buick up a dirt trucking road to their camp.  We left Gertrude and Freddie at a motel and took the challenge.  We shouldn’t have.  I drove the car off the road and it slid down a hill.  Fortunately it didn’t roll and none of us were hurt.  It took a full day to get a tow truck to pull the car back on the road.  Altho there was no visible damage, the car never again seemed new to me.  Mom never complained.

I had no career goal when I left high school.  I was subjected to the standard intelligence and interest tests, scoring high in quantitative thinking, reasoning, and use of information; low in vocabulary and word fluency.  I reflected vocational interest in administration and office work with no interest in scientific work.  Because I had an interest in government, I decided to major in Political Science at a college with an excellent reputation in that field.  I selected Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., but submitted my application too late for consideration.  Instead, I entered the University of San Francisco, another Jesuit School, with the idea that I could transfer to Georgetown at the end of my freshman year.

I continued living at home: 34 Pt. Lobos Avenue, San Francisco.  My new girlfriend was Seana Morgan, then a senior at George Washington High.  With all my friends off to other schools, I tried to develop new friends at U. S. F.  I enjoyed my classes and my intramural football teammates.  But, I was not accustomed to an all male school and I did not like the interruptions of the academic schedule for religious observances.  By the end of the school year, I was ready to transfer, but not to another Jesuit school.  I chose San Jose State where Ray L’Esperance had spent his first year and where Gil Ward and John Finnell planned to enroll.  Ray and Gil planned to room together.  John and I planned to room together.

In the summer of 1953, the four of us went into business contracting with the Forest Service to clear sections of Lasson National Forest of gooseberries.  It was not terribly profitable and I was terribly lonely away from Seana.  By mid summer, we agreed that John and I would leave the remaining contracts for Gil and Ray to complete.  John and I returned to San Francisco.  For the balance of the summer, Mom arranged a trip to New Orleans where we could stay with Dr. Everts, a friend of hers who had an apartment in the French Quarter.  We went by bus.  The trip was hot and uncomfortable.  In Gila Bend, Arizona, an axle on the bus broke so our trip was extended by several 100+ degree hours.  But we did get there; and Dr. Everts saw to it that we had a tremendous time seeing New Orleans, the French Quarter, and drinking at Pat O’Briens.

John would not take the bus home.  He wired home for train fare and left in relative comfort.  I stuck to my bus budget.  By the time I got home, John and Seana were engaged.  I had no girl friend and no room mate. 8  Mom and I drove to San Jose where we located an apartment on South 7th Street, about two blocks from the campus.  I moved in with what borrowed pots, sheets, towels, and utensils I could muster.  At 19, I was living away from home for the first time.

I did not enjoy living alone.  The friends I had: Gil, Ray, and George, all worked after classes, so there was limited time to enjoy their company.  I decided to rush the fraternities.  I was invited and accepted the invitation to pledge PiKA, in which George was already a member.  After my initiation, I moved out of the apartment and into the fraternity house at 343 East Reed Street.  I had plenty of friends.

I loved fraternity life.  It exposed me to people with a wide range of interests and talent.  We had athletes (including Bill Rahming who starred in San Jose’s first win over Stanford in football 19-14 in 1955), artists (including the Redmond twins), theater people (including Paul Thomsen and Jim Bernardi), and a few scholars.  I was so involved in the fraternity that I neglected my studies.  I was shocked when I was given C’s for my first quarter’s efforts.  Combined with what I had done at U. S. F., I had a mediocre 1.53 g.p.a. (on a 3.0 point scale).  I wanted to do better, so I resolved that I would set aside Tuesday and Thursdays evenings for study at the library; additionally, I would review all class notes every Sunday morning.  I maintained that schedule the balance of my college career, moved my g.p.a. up to 2.27 for the balance of my courses; and an overall 2.01 g.p.a. when I graduated.

My 2 1/2 years at San Jose State were rewarding in other ways.  I served as House manager of the fraternity and was voted its outstanding member in 1955.  I met Bev McVicker, a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority from Eagle Rock, California.  We dated steadily until the fall of 1955 when she told me she had been intimate with her old high school boy friend during the summer. 9

In the summer of 1955, my father invited me to join him and his wife for a five week summer school at Instituto Allende in San Miguel Allende, Mexico.  Altho I had had practically no contact with my father since he left in 1948, my mother had never spoken poorly of him, and I saw no reason not to go.  We drove.  I had a terrific time taking day trips to local spots in Colonial Mexico and weekend trips into Mexico City.  I was able to earn college credits for the courses I took at the Instituto.  That created the opportunity to graduate ahead of my class if I earned a few additional units during the second summer session at San Jose State.

Altho I loved college life, I decided to graduate early.  I flew back from Mexico to visit Bev for a weekend at her home in Eagle Rock before returning to San Jose for the second summer session.  It was during that session on August 18 that my father died unexpectedly.  The time we had been together just weeks before took on an added significance and meaning.  His death was much easier to accept than it would have been had I turned down his invitation.

I was graduated with my A.B. on January 27, 1956.  I left college without a career objective.  I was actually in a state of panic – unable to sleep – when I realized I would be leaving the fraternity and was expected to get a job and earn a living.  I had no real idea where to start.

In a sense, Mom came to the rescue.  She suggested I take some of the money I had 10 and go to Europe.  It was an excellent idea.  I started the trip with Bob Cracolice, a fraternity brother.  We drove to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.  After the celebrations, Bob returned home and I flew on to New York where Mom and Susan were waiting.  On February 17, 1956, Susan and I embarked for England on the Queen Elizabeth I.

We joined a one month tour which took us from England to Amsterdam and Brussels, thru Luxembourg, along the Rhine to Switzerland, to Innsbruck, to Venice, Rome, Nice, and Paris.  At that point,  Susan returned home.  I struck out on my own.  I left Paris for Belgrade on the Orient Express.  After a visit there, I took a local train to Dubrovnik, a ship up the Adriatic Coast to Trieste, another ship from Trieste calling at Patros, Greece, Palermo and Naples, Italy before disembarking at Gibraltar.  From Gibraltar, I toured Tangier, Morocco, Spain and Portugal before returning home on the Andrea Doria on her last westward crossing before she sank.

I was thrilled with my exposure to so many foreign countries, but sobered with the extent of the unrepaired war damage I saw.  England, Germany, and Yugoslavia were particularly hard hit.  It was evident the continent was still a long way from economic recovery.  With the exception of Switzerland, prices were extremely reasonable 11 and the vendors anxious.  They often met as we got off the tour bus; or in train stations 12 or on the streets.  There was an obvious shortage of men.  I found women, particularly in England and France, pretty aggressive.  In Yugoslavia, women were doing heavy construction work.  I saw a team of women pulling boxcars from where trains had disengaged them to the ports where they were loaded.  I saw extensive poverty – people dressed in rags or extremely worn clothing.  The realization that it took so long to recover from a war made a lasting impression on me.  War was a tragic and costly way to resolve international differences.

In the few months I was abroad, I decided I would look for work with the Federal Government.  When I came home, I set about applying to any agency advertising openings for college graduates.  When no immediate offer developed, I took a position as a management trainee with the Emporium-Capwell Company.  I worked at the Market Street Emporium from June to September of 1956 when I received a job offer from the Social Security Administration.  Despite my supervisor’s warning that government work would never challenge me or provide the opportunity of making a lot of money, I accepted the offer.  I was sent to Baltimore for my initial training and then began my first assignment as a Claims Representative in the Agency’s San Francisco Office at 1266 Market Street.

I lived at home until November when Mom bought a four unit building at 77 Miguel Street in my name.  I became a property owner and moved into my own one bedroom apartment with a sweeping view of downtown San Francisco and the Bay Bridge.  I was leading the good life – a job I enjoyed, a nice home, and plenty to do in a great city.  I also formed a partnership with two of my fraternity brothers: Walt Tanghe and Joe Mannon.  We pooled some money and made a down payment on a house in Westlake which we rented.  When we accumulated some more money, we did it again. 13

In 1957, Joe Mannon decided to enroll in law school.  He asked me to enroll too.  I’m not certain why I agreed, but in the fall of that year, we entered the first year class at Golden Gate University Law School.  At that time the law school was located at the Y.M.C.A. on Golden Gate Avenue which was comfortable walking distance from the Social Security Office on Market Street.  Classes were three evenings a week.  On those evenings, after eating out, I’d walk to school and study until classes began.  Law did not interest me a great deal.  I considered dropping out, but Mom convinced me to continue because it couldn’t hurt my government career to have a year of law school.  At the end of the first year, Joe did not get passing grades and was told he had little chance of eventual graduation.  When he dropped out, so did I.  Were it not for the military draft, I would not have returned and probably would have remained a civil servant with the Social Security until retirement.

In the summer of 1958, I received a pre induction notice with an order to report for a physical examination.  I had no desire for peacetime military service.  By asking, I learned I had not exhausted my eligibility for deferments as a full time student.  To get the deferment, I went back to Golden Gate Law School in the fall of 1958.  I found second year studies much more enjoyable.  I learned it was a practice of many law schools to use the first year to weed out students who did not have the aptitude to become lawyers.  In the second year, the students remaining were people the faculty felt had that ability.  I was among them and believed I could do it.

In 1958, I was promoted from Claims Representative to Claims Examiner.  As an Examiner, I reviewed the claims submitted for payment by the Claims Representatives.  My new job was in the San Francisco Payment Center, a few blocks from the District Office where I had been working.  There I met Julie Laine, 14 an aspiring ballet dancer, whose job was distributing the claims for review among all the Examiners.  This job brought her by my desk several times each day.  We dated as her dancing lessons and my law school classes allowed.  We developed a relationship which presented a true dilemma for me when, in late 1960, I was offered a position as a Management Analyst at Social Security Headquarters in Baltimore.  I wanted the new job.  I intended to make a career of government work and saw each promotion as making that career more rewarding.  But I still had a year of law school to complete and I was in love with Julie.

As it turned out, I got it all.  The Dean of Golden Gate Law School agreed to accept credits from courses I completed at Baltimore University and American University Law Schools, both of which granted me advanced admission.  Julie agreed to wait and marry me after my bar examination in the summer of 1961.  Right after the holidays, I moved out of my Miguel Street Apartment, turned the management of the building over to my mother, packed my Volkswagen and drove to Baltimore to my new job.

I arrived in Baltimore just after John F. Kennedy’s inauguration as President.  He replaced Eisenhower, a Republican.  Between his election in November and his inauguration in January, thousands of citizens wrote letters to Kennedy at the White House.  Eisenhower’s staff stored the letters.  When he took office, Kennedy had a mountain of mail to deal with.  He ordered the letters be answered.  They were sorted by the nature of the inquiry and sent in bulk to the agencies involved.  My first assignment was to the team of six given the chore of answering the letters referred to Social Security.  I didn’t like the job at first, but found the range of inquiry fascinating. 15  The expression of good will to the new President was refreshing.  Still, there were a large number of writers who simply wanted something and were bold in asking.  We were never introduced to the President, but were given instructions in the tone we were to use in replying.  The President was very conscious of a need not to ignore his supporters and well wishers.

My life in Baltimore was hectic.  While I looked for a place to live, I stayed with Jim Bernardi, a fraternity brother, in his Washington apartment.  It was several weeks before I rented an apartment on the second floor of a private home at 3718 Campfield Road in Baltimore County.  I had law school classes three evenings a week, two in Washington, D.C.  Happily, I was welcomed by Joe Koontz, my new boss, and my four coworkers in the office – all of whom supported my completion of law school and the efforts I was making to take the bar examinations and my summer marriage plans.  In June, 1961, I graduated cum laude, third in my class at Golden Gate University.  I could not attend the graduation ceremony.  I enrolled in a Bar Review Course in Washington and began study for the three bar examinations I was allowed to take: Maryland, D. C., and California.  To be an attorney for the federal government, I needed to pass just one.

The summer of 1961 was unusually hot – especially in my second floor apartment.  I bought a used air conditioner, but it wasn’t really effective.  My Mom and Bill visited during a trip to the East Coast which they cut short because of the heat.  I studied on.  I took the Maryland exam in June, the D. C. exam in July, and the California exam in August.  With the exams behind me, I was ready to marry.

Julie and I were married on August 26, 1961 at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, California.  With donations, we bought a new Volvo which we crammed with possessions for the trip to our first home in Baltimore.  We had ten days.  We took time in Chicago to visit relatives and in Niagara Falls because we were newlyweds, but the pressure to be back to work prevented the journey from feeling like a true honeymoon.

Julie entered the University of Maryland as a full time student and I, after receiving notice that I had failed the Maryland bar exam, enrolled in a review course with the intent of taking the next exam.  I abandoned that plan when I received the notices I had passed the D. C. and California exams.  I was sworn in before the District Court in Washington on December 20, 1961 and the California Supreme Court in January 16, 1962.  I was a lawyer.

We celebrated my new status with a belated honeymoon holiday cruise to the Caribbean, calling at two ports in Jamaica and a week layover in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  The venture began with an overnight bus trip from Baltimore (where it was near freezing) to Miami (where it was a balmy 80 degrees).  During that trip, the bus company misrouted our luggage.  We got off the bus in the winter clothing we had been wearing almost 24 hours.  We spent all day at the bus station hoping for the arrival of our luggage.  It didn’t happen.  We sailed in our winter clothing. 16

I was happy in the work I was doing for Social Security and had no plans to practice law.  Had it not been for two coworkers, I don’t know if my intention would have changed.  These coworkers were also attorneys who had passed their bar exams during the depression but could not establish practices in the economic climate they faced.  Each had taken positions with the Social Security Administration at its creation in 1935.  Each was now near retirement.  I often heard them talk about what might have been had they practiced law.  I feared having those same feelings if I didn’t try.

I spent a day in Washington submitting applications to the legal departments of every federal agency in which I had an interest (including Social Security).  Only one, the Federal Trade Commission, expressed an interest in me.  They offered me a position in their San Francisco Office.  Julie was delighted.  She had little interest in her college studies and wanted to go home.  I also preferred living on the West Coast.  I resigned my position Social Security and accepted the F. T. C. offer.

Julie and I took two weeks to cross the country.  We drove North through all the New England States to Quebec; then crossed Canada to Northern Michigan, visited Glacier National Park and attended the World Fair in Seattle.  We arrived in San Francisco on the July 4 Weekend.  We moved into a one bedroom apartment on Miguel Street.  I was looking forward to my new career as a lawyer.  I can’t describe the empty feeling I had when I was given a telegram from the Commissioner withdrawing the F. T. C. job offer because of budget restraints.  I was unemployed, but home.

I did call on the Attorney-in-Charge of the San Francisco Office who was astounded I was on the West Coast.  He assumed I had been told of the budget cuts before I left Baltimore.  He called Washington and, to the Commission’s credit, they found the funds to pay me.  I had my first job as a lawyer.  As it turned out, my career with the F. T. C. was short. 17  My work required that I conduct field investigations of suspected antitrust law violations.  If we found violations, our work was turned over to the trial staff for actual prosecution.  I would not be going to court.  I had the feeling I did not want to spend my legal  career in an office wondering if I would be effective if I went to court.  That void in my prospects with the F. T. C. made an invitation for an interview from the Santa Clara County District Attorney appealing.

I went to my interview with Lou Bergna knowing the district attorney was in court a lot, but now quite certain what it was they did when they got there.  I began to get an understanding when Mr. Bergna asked me how I felt about working with the police.  All I could think of saying was:  “It sounds a lot better than working against them.”  He must have been impressed.  I was offered a job.  I accepted.  We moved to Los Gatos where Julie and I paid $18,000 for our first home – a three bedroom, two bath tract home at 215 Nob Hill Way.

I was assigned to traffic court where all new deputies were expected to learn the basics of direct and cross examination before being assigned more significant cases.  Each Friday, I staggered into traffic court under a stack of cases to present against motorists who had plead not guilty.  For the first week or so, I took these cases as seriously as if I were prosecuting a homicide, but the sheer number of cases made preparation beyond reading the ticket and officer’s notes impossible.  Presentation of the evidence became routine.  After a while, I came to admire some of the citizens who took the time to plead their case.  In those days, the Judge could sentence a citizen to 5 days in jail for a traffic offense.  I never saw it done, but because the possibility existed, the citizen had a right to a jury trial.  My first jury trial on March 5, 1963 was such a case: People v Erlandson, accused of driving 40 in a 25 mile zone.  The jury found Mr. Erlandson guilty and the judge fined him $10. 18

1964 was an exciting year.  Government reports linking smoking to cancer convinced me to stop smoking, a habit I had had for 12 years.  Julie was pregnant.  We bought a new Chevrolet and drove it Mexico City and Acapulco.  I was developing confidence as a trial lawyer.  I liked working with the police.  I enjoyed the other attorneys on the staff.  I was involved in two significant cases which I won: the prosecution of a former clerk of the Municipal Court for shoplifting; and the prosecution of a supermarket chain for unfair business practices.  I felt I had a promising future.  To top it all, on November 15, Jill Alaine was born.  I was a parent and I loved it.

Parenthood changed our life dramatically for the better.  Despite the routine nature of getting up at night to check on a cry or in changing a diaper, I felt important when I did it.  It was overwhelming to look at my own daughter and realize how much she needed me without really knowing it.  Julie and I showed Jill off on day trips around Santa Clara County and on some weekend trips to the Mother Lode.  It never occurred to us that everyone wasn’t just as fascinated with Jill as we were.

In 1965, Daryl McKinstry, another deputy in the office, resigned to accept the job as County Counsel in El Dorado County.  On one of his later visits to the office, he mentioned that the County was hiring a Public Defender, but had been unable to attract qualified applicants at the $1,000/month they were offering.  That was more money than I was then making, so I submitted an application.  I was the only one of three applicants who met the statutory qualifications for the job.  I was hired.  In June, I moved to a rented house at 6013 Joni Court in Pollock Pines while Julie stayed in Los Gatos to sell our house.  By the end of August, that had been accomplished and we were together in Pollock Pines.

The job of El Dorado County Public Defender was unique in that I was the only full time employee in the department.  My secretary worked most of the time in another department.  It was essentially a private practice.  For guidance, I relied heavily on Don Chapman, the Public Defender of Santa Clara County, and on Ken Wells, the Public Defender of Sacramento County, both of whom were always willing to answer my questions.  There was so much I didn’t know and had to ask.  Judge Robert Roberts, the ranking judge of the Superior Court, helped my development by demanding full formality in his court and requiring written motions on routine matters.  The discipline of putting thoughts in writing for his review helped me learn.  His encouragement gave me the confidence to appeal matters to the Court of Appeal where I had four reported cases, two of which were reversals of rulings unfavorable to my clients.  I quickly developed a reputation as an energetic trial attorney.  After hanging a jury in my first jury trial as a Public Defender, I had a string of successful defenses in court. 19  Among the more memorable were acquittals in my first murder trial and my first attempted murder trial.   The major cases were often nerve racking because of the possible consequences to the client.  Yet I got considerable satisfaction from more routine matters including the defense of a motorist who felt his conviction for a traffic ticket wasn’t fair.  I was able to get his conviction reversed and then win an acquittal at his new trial.  His simple, “Thank you!” kept my spirits up for months.

Julie and I liked El Dorado County and felt we would stay.  For several months, we looked for a home before deciding on a tri-level, three bedroom, two bath home plan under construction inEl Dorado Hills, a new development near the Sacramento County line.  After putting our money down, we made weekly trips to watch the builder’s progress.  We made a few construction changes  to make our house a little unique.  On August 4, 1966, our second child, Jay Atkin, was born in Placerville.  His first home was in Pollock Pines, but by Christmas of 1966, our family of four was in our new home.  We had no landscaping, no curtains, and very little furniture.  We loved it – at least until the first utility bills came.  We were in way over our head financially, but somehow we managed.

We had some problems in common with our new neighbors in El Dorado Hills.  Solving them together developed a true neighborhood feeling.  We made common purchases for the materials to build fences, planting lawns and trees and did the work together.  Each week, I’d buy eggs from local farmers for distribution to the neighbors.  I was among a group of the men who had a weekly poker game.  We became particularly close to the Whites next door and the Adams across the street.  I ran the Stanislaus River with Cliff Adams; I went on the Jeepers Jamboree from Georgetown to Lake Tahoe over the old Pony Express Trail with Herb White.

Our third child, John Arthur, was born on February 14, 1968.  Elaine Adams, our neighbor, watched Jill and Jay while I took Julie to the hospital in Placerville where I stayed until the doctor and Julie convinced me I wasn’t needed.

Later that year, I applied for and was appointed as Public Defender in Solano County at a salary of $1,306/month.  I took the position in September, but commuted from El Dorado Hills until our house sold.  It took longer than I expected; it wasn’t until March 1, 1969 that we finally moved to a rented house at 315 Dahlia Street in Fairfield which we used as a base until we found a tri-level, four bedroom, two bath home at 135 Elna Drive in Vallejo on a hill with a view.  We moved in June, 1969.  We were living there when Jill started school in September.

Organizing the new office was a challenge.  I was authorized a staff of five attorneys, two investigators, and three secretaries.  I began by hiring Lu Albertson as my chief secretary.  Together we established the procedures the new staff would follow. 20   In my quest to hire attorneys who were familiar with the county, I hired two local attorneys who proved to have drinking problems.  The quality of their work presented some problems during our organizational period. 21  I also hired Steve Camden, a young graduate from the University of Washington, who was to be with the office eventually as my assistant until 1982.  We were fully operative by mid 1969 which gave me the flexibility to accept my first capital case: People v Earl.  My opponent was Bill Mackey, the best trial attorney I ever faced.  Because my client refused to cooperate with me, it was difficult to present a unified defense.  The jury returned a guilty verdict with a death sentence which Judge Sherwin later imposed. 22

Our marriage began to disintegrate in the late 60’s and early 1970.  Despite our mutual love of the children and pride in what they were doing, neither Julie nor I was happy.  In August, 1970, Julie took the initiative by returning to her parents’ home in  Santa Clara.  For several months, the children were with me.  Mom came to Vallejo to help.  After Julie filed for dissolution of the marriage in Santa Clara County, the judge gave her physical custody of the children. 23  I was given visitation on alternate weekends and for four weeks each summer.  I found it particularly emotional to return the children to Julie after a weekend visit.  The realization that I did not share in my children’s daily triumphs and tragedies really sank in during the long drive back to Vallejo alone. 24  I enjoyed my time with my children and looked forward to it.  There was always lots to do: work around the house, visits with Pretty Lady, trips to San Francisco, Warrior games, or picnics.  We developed a pattern of going out for pizza on Friday and following it up with ice cream at Baskin Robbins.  As the children got older and their school permitted, I often took one or more on my business trips.  Over the years, Jill accompanied me to Denver, Chicago, San Diego and Washington; Jay accompanied me to New York, Washington, Chicago, Seattle and Denver; John accompanied me to Boston, Washington, Chicago, and Albuquerque. 25.  Our weekends together continued regularly until the children got older, developed interests in Santa Clara, and no longer enjoyed the visits as they had when younger.

Being single had some advantages.  I had more time to travel.  In 1971, I attended the ABA Convention in London.  On the recommendation of friends, I bought a Mercedes Benz for delivery in Germany.  After the convention, I flew to Stuttgart to get delivery.  A few days later Karyn, my girlfriend, joined me.  We took an extended trip thru Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, 26 and the Netherlands.  Among the sights which left an impression were the Berlin Wall and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  We left the car in Rotterdam for shipment home. 27  On the train trip from Rotterdam to Frankfurt for the flight home, much of our luggage was stolen.  There were few souvenirs from the trip.

On July 9, 1973, Steve Camden, Jay Eiger, and I were leaving the Courthouse for lunch.  As we approached my car, we were confronted by Cleon Montgomery, an county jail escapee.  After a court appearance, he attacked and disarmed an elderly bailiff.  With the bailiff’s gun, he fled the building, came upon us and demanded we drive him to Vallejo.  I refused until Steve called my attention to the gun pointed at me from under a towel in Montgomery’s hand.  I let him in.  With the gun at my head much of the way, I drove to Columbus Parkway near St. John Mine Road where he had me stop.  At his demand, I surrendered the car and all my money.  He drove off.  The three of us hitched a ride to the police department.  The Desk Sergeant, who knew Steve and me, thought we were pulling a gag when we told him what had happened.  It took a call to Fairfield to verify the escape before they took action.  Montgomery was captured the next day at his sister’s house in Richmond.  My car was returned undamaged. 28

This incident attracted considerable news attention.  When we got back to Fairfield, we were met by several reporters and a TV crew.  Steve dealt with the Press.  I had an appearance before Judge Healy on a motion to change venue in a murder case.  Judge Healy was an unhappy person who, from the safety of his position, spent considerable time criticizing others.  He was a long time antagonist of our office.  I barely made it to the hearing on time.  Judge Healy made no mention of the kidnap or the fact I could have been shot or that he was glad to see me.  Instead he noted a typographical error on my pleadings, criticized the office, and asked the district attorney (who had not noticed the error) if he would waive the defect.  He did.  We got on with the matter.  My motion was denied.

In 1974, at a girlfriend’s suggestion, I tried jogging.  The initial challenge was to run a mile along Oakland’s Lake Merritt, rest, then run back.    I was far from certain I could do it, but I did.  It was exhilarating to know I could run a mile when I was nearly 40.  I was encouraged to get up early 2 or 3 times/week for a run.  Soon I was looking forward to starting my day that way.  It became a daily routine.  I increased my distance to as much as 9 miles.  The regimen and discipline changed my outlook.  Altho I never thought of myself as lacking confidence, my confidence improved.  I could concentrate better.  I had far more patience.  I felt I was ahead of everyone when I got to work.  I liked the way I felt.

My professional career was enhanced by my service to the National Legal Aid & Defender Assn. and to the California Public Defenders Association which I helped found in 1968.  I went through the offices of CPDA and served as President in 1974-75.  I was on the Defender Committee, Board of Directors, and/or Executive Committee of NLADA from 1968 thru 1983.  Because these national committees met at least quarterly somewhere in the country, I had the opportunity to become familiar with a great many cities.  Washington, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, St. Louis, Seattle, Cincinnati, Denver, New Orleans, and Detroit were places I visited more than once.

The meetings gave me the opportunity of working with some of the best defenders in the nation: Jim Daugherty of Chicago, Ben Lerner of Philadelphia, James Neuhard of Michigan, Vince Aprile of Kentucky, Shelly Singer of Chicago, and Jim Kura of Ohio.  In California, there were Shelly Portman of Santa Clara, Jim Brown of San Francisco, Bill Littlefield of Los Angeles, Dick Erwin of Ventura, Bill Higham of Contra Costa, and Jim Hewitt of Alameda.  Contacts in the defender community gave me a constant source of expertise to fall back on whenever a new problem came my way.  I think many of them shared my view that the work we did advanced the entire civilization by building community support for the concept that someone accused of crime had the right to a clear minded ally who understood the law when he faced the government to answer the charge.

In 1974, I began dating Anne Cooney 29 who I had met in the course of her work as a Court Officer for the Welfare Department. Over the next three years, we spent lots of time together.  We took trips to Hong Kong (74), Russia (75), and Japan (76).  In 1976, we bought a distressed home at 622 Indiana Street in Vallejo into which we poured energy and money giving us a modest rental income.  By 1977, I had no interest in any other woman and asked Anne to marry me.  She accepted.  I sold 135 Elna Drive to buy 1129 Valle Vista, a home with six bedrooms – one for each of the children. 30  Anne moved to the new home first.  I took my children to England.  We stayed with English families: a week in Scotland, a week in Yorkshire, and a week in London.  I felt the trip would give me the opportunity of explaining my remarriage.  They did not understand.  I guess they saw it as compromising what little time we had together.

Anne and I were married in the garden of our new home on August 14, 1977.  Judge Ellis Randall performed the ceremony.  Anne’s sister, Alexis, and Steve Camden stood up for us.  We took a honeymoon trip 31 to the Philippines in conjunction with the World Conference on Law.  President Ferdinand Marcos hosted the Conference in grand style with lavish banquets for all attendees.  After the conference, we took a ship to some of the outer islands as far south as Zamboanga.  The cruise established that Anne was no sailor.  She spent much of the trip in our cabin not feeling too well.  On Mindanao, we were impressed seeing combat ready conditions a short distance out of town: roads closed with armed regulars on patrol.

Our married routine settled in.  I had a difficult time adjusting to Elizabeth and David.  Elizabeth was conditioned to throw fits when she didn’t get what she wanted.  As I didn’t believe in giving in to tantrums, there was frequent friction between us.  David was dishonest and disturbed, frequently quitting age appropriate activities when things didn’t go right.  I had a real fondness for David, but as time went by, I grew to distrust him.  The five children got along pretty well together, but there was a definite feeling on my part and on Anne’s that we favored our own children and that strained our relationship.  It’s questionable if the marriage would have worked had all five children lived with us.

Jill and David presented the most serious problems.  Both smoked, used marijuana, and experimented with illegal drugs.  They often cut classes.  Their grades suffered.  David stole from us.  Jill eventually became beyond Julie’s control and came to live with us in the hope a change of environment would be beneficial.  We enrolled her in a private Christian School.  At first her grades and attendance improved, but she eventually found the drug subculture and snuck out at night to be a part of it.  In 1981, she ran away and was gone for months.  On her return, she had to be placed in a group home, Pride House in Van Nuys, where she remained for over a year during 1982 and 1983.  David just quit school and ran away.  He lived a while with his father, but he eventually lived on the streets.

Through all this, Anne and I tried to lead normal lives.  We twice opened our home to exchange students: Akito Ito of Japan was with us in the summer of 1978; Sari Pajunen of Finland was with us in the summer of 1985. 32  In 1982, I was elected President of the Fairfield Host Lions Club of which I had been a member since 1974.

In 1979 Don Hancock, fellow Lion and owner of the Fairfield Daily Republic, asked me to enter a 10K race his newspaper was sponsoring.  In the five years I had been jogging, I had never considered racing.  I accepted the challenge.  I ran a 44:54 (7:13/mile).  I was neither encouraged nor discouraged, but I did have some fun.  In 1981, I ran my first Examiner Bay to Breakers and began entering races in earnest.  At the end of the year, I ran my first Marathon finishing with a time of 3:41:59 (8:26/mile).  Racing became one of my favorite pastimes.  Jay and John entered the Bay to Breakers for their first time in 1982.  Every year thereafter until her death in 1988, Mom treated us all to Sunday Brunch after the race.  I ran my 100th race in 1986.  I became very competitive in my age category and won a number of local races over the years. 33

In 1979, Anne resigned her position with the County to take a job as director of Drake House, a girl’s group home in Concord.  She eventually purchased a house for the program which she leased back to it.  In 1980, she was offered the position of Executive Director of the Napa-Solano Girl Scout Council which had its headquarters in Vallejo.  She took that job to be closer to home and for the opportunity to work with achievers instead of troubled and delinquent children as she had been doing throughout her professional life.

In addition to administering the Public DefendersOffice, I retained an active caseload.  I tried over 100 cases to juries, 17 of them involving the defense of clients charged with murder.  I argued 13 cases before the State and Federal  Appellate Courts.  I twice made bids for an appointment to the Bench while Jerry Brown was governor and once when George Deukmajian was governor, but was not selected.

Anne and I tried to take a vacation trip outside the country each year.  We managed trips to Mexico (1977, 1978, 1985 – 1987), Spain (1979), 34 the Caribbean (1980 and 1982), the Bahamas (1982 and 1987), England (1984), and Central America (1987).  Additionally, in 1981, we bought two time shares in Reno which we exchanged for visits to other resorts each year.  This allowed us trips to other states on which we could take one or more of the children.  Liz went with us to Utah (1984) and Oregon (1985); John went with us to Idaho (1983) and Utah (1984); Dave went with us to Carlsbad, California (1986); Jay went with us to Guatemala and Costa Rica (1987).

Jill recovered nicely with the help of the Pride House Program.  She graduated from Central High School in Los Angeles in 1983 and left shortly thereafter on an eight week  Lions Exchange Program to Queensland, Australia as the guest of several Lions host families.  She returned feeling good about herself.  She had no interest in college, but got a job and became self supporting. 35

In 1982, The Board of Supervisors, on the recommendation of Richard Watson, the County Administrative Officer, split the Public Defenders Office into two separate offices.  I was left in control of the office in Fairfield; Steve Camden was given control of a new office in Vallejo. 36  The purpose of the move was to reduce costs in providing counsel for clients who we could not represent because of a conflict of interests.  Under the new structure, we would represent clients the Vallejo Office could not ethically represent; the Vallejo Office would represent clients we could not ethically represent.

The concept was sound, but it did not work.  Steve asked Linda McKenna, an attorney on our staff, to tell him what we were doing in the office.  Linda reported the request to me and the rest of the staff.  There was staff distrust and suspicion of Steve which was aggravated by persistent rumors that he had business dealings with the assistant administrator, Paul McIntosh and with Osby Davis, a member of the Board of Supervisors.

I was unable to stem the distrust.  I had no explanation for the staff when the Board, on the Administrator’s recommendation, diverted new resources to the Vallejo Office leaving our already overworked staff to deal with the increases in work as the County grew and the Public adopted a “get tough” attitude on crime.  Staff felt Steve had influence with the Board that I lacked.  Where there should have been cooperation, there was jealousy.  Our job became harder to accomplish.

In 1984, Richard Watson handed me a lengthy letter criticizing a number of things I had done and labeling me a poor manager.  I did not have time to deal with him directly.   I hired Clint Peterson (later a Justice on the Court of Appeal) to deal with Watson.  Meanwhile I called a staff meeting to advise them of the letter.  The staff gave me their complete support.  After a few weeks of negotiating, Watson agreed to back off if I made a few cosmetic changes within the department.  I came out of that experience convinced Watson was both misinformed and a weak leader.  What I did not know was the source(s) of his misinformation or why he would direct so much energy on me.

Three other events impacted our lives.  Dave dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army.  After his basic training, he was sent to South Korea and assigned to helicopter maintenance.  He seemed to like the military and responded well to its structure.  However, on a random test,  he tested positive for marijuana.  He was given the option of assignment to the infantry or leaving the service.  He left the service and returned to Vallejo.  We offered him a room until he got on his feet.  He got minimum wage job with commissions at a service station, but felt it was beneath him: “I think I’m worth more than minimum wage.”  His dissatisfaction was probably reflected in the quality of his work.  He was discharged.  He returned to the streets and the local drug culture.  Thefts followed.  We could not keep loose cash around.  All gold jewelry had to be placed in the safe deposit box.  We told him to leave.  We were then periodically burglarized.  Eventually most of our electronic equipment was taken.  We reported each burglary to the Vallejo Police and to our insurance carrier (which eventually canceled us).  Dave was not caught until May of 1987.  The thefts stopped, but David was in the criminal justice system and eventually  was given a sixteen month prison sentence.  The tragedy of losing a relative to drugs and the prison system was aggravated by the feelings of family humiliation.

Elizabeth began dating black men.  Anne disapproved because of the social barriers those relationships often created.  She tried to discuss her feelings with Liz, but was rebuffed with accusations of racism.  The accusation was absurd, but in making it Liz closed her mind and would not listen to any discussion of potential consequences.  Our concerns intensified in 1985 on Elizabeth’s announcement she was pregnant, that the father was black,  and that she was determined to bear her child.  Neither Anne nor I felt it a wise decision, but Anne’s arguments simply made Liz more determined.  On May 8, 1986, Raymond Cooney was born at Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo.  There was no difficulty accepting Raymond.

Perhaps these two family sagas contributed in some degree to the third.  In November 1987, Anne resigned, under pressure, as Executive Director of the Girl Scouts.  This was a terrible emotional blow coming after so many years of work and on the heels of the disappointments involving David and Elizabeth.  Anne had become active and involved in the O A Program in 1983 and found the strength to deal with it all with the help of her friends in that program and in keeping to the program.  Anne later took a part time position with the American Cancer Society as a fund raiser.  She enjoyed the limited hours.

In February, 1988, it was my turn.  In July of 1987, I had been called before the Board of Supervisors to answer inquiries about my dealings with the Attorney General on behalf of a client who made allegations of illegal activity by Steve Camden.  Nothing had come of my dealings because our client cut off communication with us.  Months later he contacted the Vallejo Police with similar allegations.  The Police used him as an undercover agent to elicit compromising statements from Steve.  Those statements led to Steve’s arrest in February, 1987 for matters entirely unrelated to what I had discussed with the Attorney General. 37  During the press inquiries which resulted, my dealings with the client and the Attorney General came to light along with the fact I had asked an investigator in our office to determine if Steve was romantically involved with the Administrator’s Analyst assigned to conduct a comparative study of our offices.  Two members of the Board were upset with what I had done and, over the next few months, were able to convince the others to demote me from my position as Public Defender. 38

The demotion came two months before my mother suffered the seizure which kept her in bed until her death from cancer on May 24, 1988.  Anne’s support and my mother’s death kept the Board’s action in perspective.  Staff support was continuous.  I decided to remain in the Office while I completed work for three of my clients who faced murder changes.   That work took several months.  On September 2, after 32 years of government service, I resigned.

On October 22, 1988, the Defender Staff sponsored a retirement banquet at the Fairfield Holiday Inn, complete with the presentation of a gold watch.  The party was attended by nearly 200 well wishers.  Assemblyman Tom Hannigan presented me with a State Assembly Resolution honoring my public service.  S. F. Public Defender Jeff Brown, Dick Grable, and local attorneys, Dan Russo and Tom Hagler  were among those who spoke.  I was terribly flattered and proud.

Despite our lack of jobs, Anne and I were financially secure.  From the beginning of our marriage, we had invested a significant amount of our salaries into tax deferred shelters.  We had also invested in stocks and real estate.  At the time I resigned, our house was nearly paid for.  In addition to our investment and rental income, I was eligible for a pension of $2,400/month.  I also had income from my Mother’s estate my partnership with Susan which included the Miguel Street Property and its rental income.

I had no desire to establish a legal practice.  I did not want the pressure of making enough money to pay staff and make expenses month after month.  I felt it would compromise my ability to do other things and to take trips when the opportunity arose.  Although I did not practice law, I did work as a Referee in the Juvenile Court as I was needed.  In deciding the issues placed before me, I learned how difficult it often is to patiently listen to competing claims remaining alert for the indications which indicate which of the claims was true.  I enjoyed the work a great deal.  It provided me the opportunity of keeping links to the legal community and many of the people I had worked with for so long.

In 1989, I satisfied a long suppressed desire by designing and building a rental unit on the rear of the land we owned at 622 Indiana Street in Vallejo.  I hired Art Alexander, another former county employee, as my builder.  Jay and I broke ground in July.  John joined us a few weeks later.  The three of us worked together until John left for Taiwan as an exchange student for the 1989-90 academic year.  Jay and I continued until his school year began.  I finished the job in October.  We had our first tenant in November.   The additional rental income added to our financial security.

In the weeks I did not sit as a Referee, I was eligible for unemployment benefits.  One of the conditions of that eligibility was that I look for work which I did.  In 1990, Bill Martin, an attorney in Modesto, offered me a job in his firm for a draw of $5,000/month against a share of the firm profits.  He invited Anne and me to a weekend in San Francisco where he put us up in a $750/night suite at the Union Square Hyatt, wined and dined us, and took us to the opera.

We accepted his offer.  Before my first day on the job, Bill took us on a tour of all the new housing developments in Modesto.  We decided on a home at 552 Blue Canyon Drive near a new golf course.  While the house was being built, I spent the work week living with Jill and Larry in Manteca and the weekends at home in Vallejo.  The job with Bill Martin lasted less than six months.  In July, Anne and I returned from a trip to Asia to find a letter from Bill saying he couldn’t afford to pay me and I’d have to go. 39  I remained with the firm through August trying cases each week.  In the meantime, the California real estate market had collapsed.  The house for which we paid $229,000 now sold for $189,000.  Our $50,000 down payment was now worth about $10,000 – just enough to pay a commission to sell the house.  Luckily, we had not sold our home in Vallejo, so we had the option of returning.

While we were considering where to live, I began accepting appointments from the Court.  I was soon getting 2-3 appointments/week and, in 1991, I was appointed on two capital cases: Brenda Prado and Richard Vieira.  Because I was working out of my home, I had few expenses.  I was soon making more than I had ever made as an employee.  We decided to stay in Modesto.  Anne quit her part time job with the American Cancer Society in Vallejo (the salary was not enough to cover the cost of the commute).  She concentrated on developing her interests in music.  She began teaching cello in our home while filling in as needed as a mucician for local productions.

The Prado trial (on which I was co-counsel to Robert Winston) ended when the jury did not return a finding of special circumstances.  The Vieira trial (which I defended alone) did not end well.  The jury returned four of five possible death verdicts.  I was depressed for weeks.  I have been opposed to the death penalty as long as I have given the matter thought.  I cannot comprehend how the State does anything but play to the instincts of its baser citizens when it kills one of its citizens.  It certainly doesn’t make us any safer.  I see that as degrading us all.

Anne and I had many opportunities to travel.  In addition to many trips within the country including Hawaii (1989 and 1993) and Alaska (1995), we went to Southeast Asia (1990), Japan (1990 and 1993), Australia (1993), Europe (1994 and 1996), New Zealand (1994), Canada (1995), and the Caribbean (1995 and 1996).  On November 10, 1991, Anne and I left for our only trip around the world.  The trip took ten weeks.  We started with a three day tour of the Pearl River area of China and  a short stay in Hong Kong followed by a week in Thailand.  We flew to India where we spent a week – enough time to see the Taj Mahal.  We flew on to Rome where we spent five days before beginning a train trip which took us to San Marino, Cremona (where Anne bought a cello), Paris, Lisbon, and Spain.  We were on the Costa Brava for the Christmas and New Years Holidays where we were joined by the Sheehys, Edna, and Liz.  We made day trips to Morocco, Gibraltar, Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, and Grenada.  It was a wonderful vacation.  After New Years, the others went home.  Anne and I went on to England and Ireland before returning home late in January 1992.

Under the tax laws of the time, it was advisable that we sell our house in Vallejo by June 1, 1992 – two years after we bought our home in Modesto.  We put the house on the market only to discover it was in need of $30,000 in repairs.  The best offer we could get within the time we had to sell was $190,000 – about $40,000 less than what our Realtor felt the house was worth.  We were unwilling to take the offer.  Our alternative was to return to Vallejo before June 1 and make the recommended repairs ourselves.  That is what we did.  Over the summer of 1992, Jay and I, with the help of hired handymen, completed the repairs: a new roof, new heating ducts, new plumbing in two of the bathrooms, double paned windows and glass doors, and replacing much of the exterior wood structure.   We rented our home in Modesto with hopes the real estate market would improve and cut our losses.

I established a limited law practice by accepting appointments from the Solano courts and running a small ad in the Yellow Pages.  In 1993, I volunteered for pro bono work thru Legal Aid.  That work exposed me to family law – a field that was completely new to me.  For my pro bono work, the State Bar gave me Wiley W. Manuel Awards in 1993 and 1994.

On September 8, 1993, as a result of a liaison with Shelby McDonald, a drug abuser, Dave Cooney had a daughter, Brandy.  Complications at birth kept Brandy in the hospital several weeks before she was released to her homeless mother.  Shelby left Brandy with a sitter who eventually turned her over to Liz who, at that time, was a single parent raising Raymond and Duke, her two sons.  A third child was beyond her means.  Anne took Brandy from Liz and brought her into our home until something could be worked out for her.  I did not want the responsibility of raising another child.  I looked for help in finding someone to adopt her.  Anne resisted.  Over the months I grew to love Brandy.  In April of 1994, Anne and I left  Brandy with Liz while we spent a month in Europe.  I missed her while we were apart.  In July, we took Brandy on a trip to Albuquerque and Colorado.  She fit right in and we took her with us on every trip thereafter.  Within three years, she had been with us on visits to 24 of the States and 24 foreign countries.  By 1995, it was clear Brandy would be with us a long time.  We began regular attendance at the Lassen Street Church of Christ to provide her with a Christian upbringing.  Brandy was fortunate that her mother successfully completed a rehabilitation program and began taking an active interest in her with weekly visits.  We all agreed Brandy was better off with us.  On October 31, 1996, with her parents’ consent, we adopted her.

Brandy’s adoption changed our lives for the better.  Anne had a blood relationship and the opportunity of raising a child in a stable environment without the distraction of an active career.  She saw it as an opportunity to redeem herself for the mistakes she felt she made while raising David and Elizabeth.  I longed for the responsibility of raising a child I lived with every day and I believed that if I could rescue one child my life would have served a purpose.  Brandy provided the opportunity.  I loved reading to her at bedtime when she was small.  We read children’s versions of the Bible until she knew all the familiar stories.  We made countless trips to J.F.K. Library, combing the Childrens’ Section for books of interest.  I loved walking her to and from Cooper School as she advanced from Kindergarden through 5th Grade.  It provided an opportunity to talk about her school day.  Brandy made friends easily and many of those friendships endured for years as she went on to M.I.T. Middle School and St. Patrick/St. Vincent High School.

Brandy traveled well.  We were expert in moving her diaper bag, stroller, and infant seat and storing them in an overhead rack on an airplane.  For the first several years of school, Brandy was on a year round schedule that had vacation times in the Spring and Fall rather than Summer.  That allowed considerable flexability in planning trips to popular destinations in the off-season.  We took full advantage.  Israel/Egypt and the pyramids in November 1999, the Caribbean in March 2000 and April 2004, South America in February 2001 and March 2002,  and Hawaii in April 2003.  When she entered M.I.T. Middle School in 2004, she was on a traditional schedule and we had to compete with all the other families with children during the Summer breaks.

Wherever we went, if we could find a Church of Christ, we attended.  I struggled with their teachings, but I agreed with Anne that Brandy was be better off for having a Christian background and a church family.  Were it not for Anne’s beliefs in the teachings of the Church of Christ, I would have experimented with other denominations, but I was pleased with Brandy’s acceptance of the environment and delighted with the support of the congregation in accepting us despite my misgivings in accepting the Bible as God’s word and Jesus as the only son of God.  In 2007, after hearing a radio spot bout the North Bay Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, I began attendance there while Anne continued her attendance with Brandy at the Lassen Street Church of Christ.

What I considered an ideal life changed dramatically when Anne died.  In retrospect, I was fortunate she was in relative good health well into 2008.  She did pretty well on our last foreign trip together to Japan in August, but by Thanksgiving at the Ridge Tahoe, she was unable to walk uphill at the altitute.  She managed Christmas, but had to be hospitalized two days later – no longer able to walk from our bedroom to the car.  I found it very difficult to witness her decline over the next five days as her body bloated and the doctors tried to monitor her medications to abate her failing systems.  I’m glad she did not have to endure the suffering any longer than she did.

I am grateful Alexis was here to manage the funeral arrangements and deal with the many calls and expressions of condolences over the next several days.  I was pretty much numb and in a private daze and not paying much attention to Brandy or appreciating the impact of the loss of her mother at 15 years.  As the weeks passed, I  had to devote considerable time to taking control of the the family financial matters that Anne had managed for years.   I never did understand her system.  All I knew was that it worked.

Brandy broke down when it was time to return to StP/StV in August for her Junior Year.  She left home for several days to stay with a friend.  When she returned, she accused me of taking her Mother’s death unemotionly while she had suffered such a great loss.  We talked, but I remain convinced I had no more comprehension of the depth of her loss than she did of mine.  They were just different.  Over the next several months things got better, but there was no recovery of the family sense that existed when there were three of us.  Brandy did not do well in school that year.  She needed extra help from several of her instructors to get through.


  1. We left San Francisco, where my father taught, in June, 1943 and moved to a house on the corner of 4th & Acacia Sts. in Garden Grove, Calif.  In Feb. 1944 we moved to 1221 So. Van Ness Ave. in Santa Ana, Calif.  In Sept. 1944, we moved to military housing on Carlsbad Army Air Base, Carlsbad, New Mexico.  In Nov. 1944, we moved to San Antonio, Texas, but couldn’t find housing, so my mother took Susan and me to live with relatives at 3529 N. Wilton Ave. in Chicago, Illinois.  In March, 1945, my father located housing at 215 E. Craig Place in San Antonio and we lived there until June, 1945 when we returned to San Francisco.
  2. I met that goal in 1976, when, en route to Tokyo, our plane landed in Anchorage, Alaska.  There was a long delay to refuel and make some repairs, so we walked around the airport.  Alaska was my 50th state.
  3. George and I remained friends for years.  For a while we visited back and forth between San Francisco and San Jose, but as we progressed in school, we each developed new friends.  We met again when I transferred to San Jose State College.  He was already a student there and a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, which was an instrumental reason that I also pledged.   After we graduated in 1956, we got together from time to time right up to the present.  George declined the opportunity to join his father’s radio and TV business; and became extremely successful as the owner of his own business manufacturing window coverings for wholesale distribution.
  4. I had a B average for all classes in my three years of junior high school: 10 A’s, 16 B’s, and 10 C’s.
  5. Two of my high school friends, Les Minkus and Herb Fitz, went on to become attorneys.  Two other high school friends, Ray L’Esperance and Gil Ward, went on to become supervisory probation officers in Alameda County.  I lost track of Bob McChesney, Bud Lithgow, John Finnell, and Joe Schillachi.
  6. Among the other things my mother did as she began earning commissions from her real estate sales was take Susan and me on a vacation to Sun Valley, Idaho in the summer of 1951.
  7. I had a B- average for my three years in high school: 6 A’s, 20 B’s, 6 C’s, and 3 D’s, two of which were in Physics, a subject I never understood.
  8. John and Seana married shortly after.  John did transfer to San Jose State and joined the ATO Fraternity.  We rarely saw each other; and I lost track of them.
  9. Bev was a real favorite with my Mom and Susan, both of whom met her on the many weekends we spent at home in  San Francisco.  My Mom told me I should tell Bev how I felt and forgive her.  I could not and my attitude soured our relationship.  It was several years before I got over losing her.  For a period, I’d get reports on her from mutual acquaintances, however, by 1957, I lost track of her.  Years later, someone told me she was married, living in Seattle, and had two children.
  10. While in college, I was a passenger in an automobile accident.  I was hospitalized for three days.  I settled with the driver’s insurance company for a few thousand dollars.
  11. In Belgrade, I ate at the best restaurant.  Entertainment was provided by two orchestras, one on each of the two ends of the room.  The meal included everything from soup to nuts, a variety of wines, and brandy.  The bill was about $4.
  12. I remember being met at 3 a.m. when my train pulled into Lisbon, Portugal.  An elderly couple offered me room and board for about $3/day in their home.  I accepted.  They carried my bags.  It was a clean, comfortable home not more than three blocks from the heart of the city.
  13. This partnership was successful, but we had to dissolve it a few years later because our work took us out of the area.  We sold both houses at a modest profit and divided the other assets which included some stock in A T&T which I retained for many years.
  14. Julie was born May 27, 1938 in Bonneville, Washington.  At the time, her father, Oiva, was working on the Grand Coolie Dam.
  15. The classic letter I received was: “In regards to the check at the Milton Childern, tony and Norman Chris.   I’d like my named changed from Milton to Parks.  I just rencently got married.  Now I was wondering if you knew if my husband could count the childern as densentends, or will the social sucrety check be counted as self denpends?”
  16. The ship sailed on December 23.  We were at sea on the 24th.  We docked in Pt. Antonio, Jamaica on Christmas, but no stores were open and we were unable to buy summer clothing.  The next day, we docked in Kingston, but it was Boxing Day and, once again, no stores were open.  Happily, I found a street vendor who sold bathing suits.  The suit I bought became my ship wear until we docked in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and could purchase clothing.  We did not recover our luggage until we were back in Baltimore.
  17. I was with the F. T. C. when the San Francisco Giants won the National League pennant in 1962.  Most of the staff attorneys were avid sports fans  We managed to get tickets to the 7th game of the World Series which the Giants lost to the New York Yankees 1-0, the last out being recorded when Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson – a foot higher or to either side and the Giants would have been world champions.  We figured the Giants would win in 1963.  Little did we know it would be 27 years before the Giants were back in the World Series and 48 years before they won one.
  18. The Legislature later declared almost all moving traffic violations to be infractions without jail as punishment.  This removed the right of trial by jury.  I suppose the economics of recovering a $10 fine after an outlay of $120 in jury fees dictated this improvement, but it also removed an excellent training area for new attorneys.  I had many jury trials involving traffic offenses before being moved on to misdemeanor trials.
  19. In the three + years I served as Public Defender in El Dorado County, I had 76 trials.  I lost 46 of those trials.  22 of my clients were acquitted.  There were 6 split verdicts and two hung juries.
  20. Lu made a special contribution one day when we were moving furniture into our new offices.  I bent over and split the seam in my pants.  I retreated to my private office which, at that time, contained no furniture: just stacks of books and a fone.  I took off my pants, handed them to Lu thru a slightly open door.  I sat on a stack of books while she took the pants to a tailor for repair and returned.  We then continued moving the furniture.

    Lu was with the Office until her death from cancer in 1985.

  21. I had to ask for the resignation of both attorneys.
  22. Milton Earl was not executed.  A later California Supreme Court decision declared the Death Penalty unconstitutional.  The decision automatically changed Earl’s sentence to life in prison.  He was later paroled and was one of the people featured in a 1988 ABC News TV Special Report on death row inmates who were later released.  He owned his own business and was active in his church teaching youngsters to lead drug free lives.
  23. The marriage was formally dissolved on June 30, 1971.  The Superior Court file number is 233433.
  24. As time went on, I adjusted to the realization I was a weekend parent.  I also eased the problem of transporting the children on their weekend visits by earning a private pilots license.  If the weather permitted, I’d rent a plane and fly down to get the children on Friday afternoons.  I continued this practice until they were old enough to use BART.  After that, Julie would take them to BART in Fremont and I’d pick them up at BART in El Cerrito.  They returned on Sunday the same way.
  25. The cost of taking a child alone was quite reasonable.  My expenses were paid by the Nat’l Legal Aid & Defender Assn.  That included round trip air fare, a single room, and all meals.  Frequently there was no charge for the second person in the room, but when there was, it was nominal.  Air fare was 50% for a child under 12.  In addition to that expense, there were meals, but the children almost always wanted to eat at a fast food restaurant like McDonalds; or would insist on a pizza. After each child was 12, the air fares became too expensive and this activity declined.
  26. We visited Cousin Alan and Inge Ligda while in Denmark.  Inge was Danish.  At the time, they lived there.  One of the things we did together was take a ferry to Sweden to buy all the cigarettes the Danes would allow to be imported as the Danish tax was very high.  I had stopped smoking in 1963 when smoking was first linked to cancer, so the cigarettes I bought  increased what Alan could import on a single trip.
  27. I had the 1971 Mercedes 220D until 1988 when, with over 250,000 miles (and a rebuilt engine), I gave it to Jay.
  28. The strange thing was that I was required to pay the towing fees incurred by the Police who had the car moved from the place it was found to the city storage lot.
  29. Anne Marbury was born February 2, 1941 in Pacific Grove, California  She was divorced with two children: David born January 28, 1966 and Elizabeth born October 20, 1969.
  30. The house was on the market for $85,000 and probably slightly underpriced.  I had Mom draft an offer for $80,000 which I reviewed with Anne.  Anne said, “Why are you offering so much?”  I said I didn’t have the nerve to offer any less and was prepared to pay the full price.  Anne responded, “Well you may not have the nerve, but I do.”  She rewrote the offer at $75,000 and the sellers accepted.
  31. The trip was marred by an airplane accident on the takeoff after a stop in Honolulu.  The plane was damaged and we were forced to spend three days in Honolulu at the expense of Philippine Airlines.  Altho Anne suffered some minor injury, fortunately no one was seriously hurt.
  32. Sari was later to visit us in 1990 and in 1994.  We visited her in Helsinki in 2000.
  33. My best times at the more popular racing distances were:

    Distance:         Time:   Mile Pace:        Place:                                       Date:

    5K                   18:36            5:59        Oakland, California                   06/16/85

    10K                 37:34            6:03        Travis AFB, Calif.                     06/07/86

    15K              1:02:18            6:41        Berkeley, California                  12/02/84

    5 Mile             30:34             6:07        Napa, California                       06/01/86

    10 Mile        1:05:08             6:31        San Francisco, Calif.                 11/02/86

    Half Mar.     1:27:39             6:42        Davis, California                       02/09/86

    Marathon     3:11:26             7:19        San Francisco, Calif.                 07/21/85

  34. This trip was taken so that I could attend the World Conference on Law.  At one of the meetings, King Juan Carlos spoke.  Anne made it a point to  get into the receiving line for the King so that she shook hands with him.  He was most charming.
  35. In 1984, John went to New Zealand on the same program.
  36. I favored the plan because I believed it would be economical for the County.  I did object to the Board giving Steve the job without giving other candidates the opportunity of applying.  I did not know at the time that Steve was a business partner with Osby Davis, a member of the Board of Supervisors, and was lending money to Paul McIntosh, the analyst who was assigned the planning for the change.
  37. Steve was later convicted of a single misdemeanor charge.
  38. I retained an attorney who filed a claim against the County for the wrongful demotion.  That claim was settled in December, 1988 for a package worth about $150,000, most of which was tax-free.
  39. I had not known that Bill Martin was under intensive investigation by the State Bar when I joined his firm.  Within a few months of my leaving, he surrendered his license before formal findings were made.


RICHARD WORTHINGTON LIGDAMale View treeBorn: 1947-01-22
Children: none

Richard was the only son and first child born to Herb and Evelyn Ligda.  He recalls fondly his first home in Lincoln, Massachusetts near Sandy Pond in the woods.  He enjoyed walks outdoors in a setting he described as “intensely beautiful,” particularly in the autumn when the leaves turned.  In 1954, his family moved to College Station, Texas, their home for the next four years.  Richard recalls that he enjoyed swimming and playing in the woods and that he had lots of friends.

In 1958, the family moved to Los Altos, California.  Richard attended Awalt High School in Mt. View.  He was a serious student and particularly gifted in mathematics. 1  While in school, with his father’s help, he assembled a preamplifier for a phonograph-stereo system.  He developed a strong interest in chess and studied the Russian chess masters.  He became a tournament player against visiting chess clubs.  Richard graduated from high school on June 17, 1965.

In 1966, after qualifying for radar repair tech school, Richard joined the Air Force.  He was in the service when his father died in 1967.  He served in Thailand during the Viet Nam War.  He was later stationed in Kansas.  In 1969, while still on active duty, Richard enrolled at Wichita State University, commuting 120 miles a week on a motorcycle to complete a half-time academic load.  After his honorable discharge in 1970, he continued as a full time student, majoring in mathematics and minoring in physics.  He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973.

Richard returned to California in 1974.  He lived at home with his mother in Los Altos.  He worked a few months, then returned to school, taking solid-state electronic courses at Foothill College and a correspondence course in communications electronics from Cleveland Institute of Electronics.  He earned a certificate of completion from C. I. E. in 1976.  He continued his education at Foothill College until 1984 when he earned his Associate of Science degree in electronics technology.  He finished two Heathkit electronics microprocessor courses by 1987.

In 1976, Richard began work as a production electronics technician for small startup companies.  He moved out of his mother’s home and began: “renting expensive apartments in Sunnyvale and Milpitas,”  coming home regularly to visit his mother and his sister Val’s family.  He is listed in the 1980 City Directory as living and working in Sunnyvale, California.  In 1988, he was living at 284 Corning Avenue in Milpitas.  In 1991, he moved to 181 Weddell Drive, Apt. 41, in Sunnyvale.  In 1997, he moved to 515 South Main Street, Apt. 10, in Milpitas.

By 1994, Richard had been working six years at Digital Link Corporation in Sunnyvale, California.  But the job he held became obsolete as microprocessors became more complex and the defense needs were reduced with the end of the Cold War.  In April, he was released.  He went to work for Denron, Inc. in San Jose in 1995 doing cable assembly work.  After eight months, he was promoted to Cable Inspector, a job he held until June, 1997 when his job was eliminated during a business slowdown.  In October, 1997, he went to work with Pantronix Corporation in Fremont as an integrated circuit test operator.  In working with many Mexican and Asian immigrants, Richard observed that he learned to understand about half of what is said in Spanish and Vietnamese.

Richard describes himself as a “dedicated bachelor since 1980.”  In a letter in 1997, he commented: “Marriage should be a result of prosperity, enabled by profit from struggles.  I have realized neither enough profit for nor a desire for marriage, not to mention children.  Still, I see a need for nonmarriage family relations.  They offer emotional support.”  He is active in computer and tournament chess, earning a “B” rating in 1994.  He is active in Heathkit electronics and computer courses, and enjoys crossword puzzles, having completed over 100 New York Times Sunday Puzzles.


  1. His high school records show 13 A’s, 26 B’s and 12 C’s.


ALAN SCOTT LIGDAMale View treeBorn: 1942-06-04Died: 2008-01-09
Children: none
Siblings: none

Alan was Ted Ligda’s only child, born of his marriage to Mildred.  His youth was marked by frequent family moves as his parents drived much of their income from the purchase of homes in need of repair, fixing them, and selling at a profit.  After his parents divorced, Alan lived with his mother who speculated in real estate, often moving into houses she purchased.  By age seventeen, Alan recalled living in seventeen different homes including a year spent living with his Grandmother Ligda at 2132 Haste Street in Berkeley.  He claimed never to attend the same school for two years in succession although he did attend a few more than once.  His last complete school year was in 1957-58 at Carlmont High in Belmont.  He was then living with his father at 1662 Laurel Street in San Carlos.  When he moved back with his mother in Palo Alto, he enrolled at Palo Alto High for his sophomore year, but dropped out after a few weeks.  Alansays he is “justifiably modest” about his early academic career.

Alan enlisted in the Marine Corps on his 17th birthday in 1959 and served four years leaving with the rank of Lance Corporal.  His military service took him to MCAS, El Toto, California, the American Embassy in Oslo, Norway, Marine Corps School, Quantico, Virginia, the USS Long Beach (CG(N)-9), the USS Wasp (CVS-18), and into the Second Marine Division at Camp Lejune, North Carolina.  During his service, he qualified as a rifle expert.

In February of 1966, Alan went to Copenhagen, Denmark to study.  There he met Inge Jansen 1 and fell in love.  They were married on April 6, 1968 in Strandmarkskirk, Hvidovre and made their first home in Denmark, but moved to Los Altos, California later in the year.  They returned to Denmark in 1970.  The decision to relocate was based on a number of things, among them United States involvement in the Viet Nam War.  Neither he nor Inge wanted to raise a family if their sons would be subject to conscription.  Both felt Danish society was more peaceful, predictable, orderly, and safer than what existed in the United States at the time.  Before leaving, they purchased a house sight unseen at Blegivij 65 in Odder.  After settling in, Inge took a job at a home furnishings store in Asrhus; Alan became manager of a record store doing work similar to work he had done in California.  He was later hired to work at a larger store in Randers, a 35 mile commute from Odder. 2

In 1972, the Ligdas sold their house in Odder and bought a larger home in Randers.  During the few weeks the former owners needed to vacate, Alan and Inge came to California to visit his mother.  On arrival, they learned she was suffering from cancer in the terminal stages – a condition she had kept from them.  On sensing her needs, they returned to Denmark, cancelled the purchase contract, gave notice to their prospective employers, and shipped their possessions to California.  On August 15, 1972, they left Denmark for New York and took the train to Philadelphia where they picked up a car for delivery to California.  Alan described the cross country trip as memorable.  The car lacked air conditioning and a radio.  Alan had a portable tape player and a single tape – the Beatles Golden Oldies  with songs both had committed to memory long before the journey’s end.

Alan and Inge bought his mother’s house at 146 Hawthorne Avenue in Los Altos and assumed responsibility of caring for her until her death on August 15, 1973.  Alan also used the time to pursue his education, enrolling at Foothill College where he studied history, drama, commercial art, geology, and music.  He made the Dean’s List.  He became quite adept at hand composition and letterpress printing, skills he later put to use commercially to help support the family.

Alan assumed management of Hermes Publications, a company his mother owned.  He described it as: ” . . . probably the smallest publishing company in the State, if not the Nation.”  He published a successful hard cover reprint edition of Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, Fundamentals of Book Collecting by Maurice Dunbar, one of Alan’s professors at Foothill College, and a limited edition of In Search of Steinbeck 3  He had considerable faminiarity with films, many of which he watched repeatedly.  Additionally he always read and sometimes memorized the names in the film credits.  He said this gave him: ” . . . the ability to project a knowledge of motion pictures I didn’t actually have.”  The Seattle Times of May 18, 1986 named City Lights, ” . . . the best stocked video store in the Seattle area.”

On April 11, 1983, Jeffrey Scott Ligda, their second son was born..  Despite the demands of parenthood, Inge made the time to work part time at the store.  Kenny helped.  By 1985, Inge was working full time and, by 1987, the store had again outgrown its location.  Alan got new quarters with 6,000 square feet at 82 Front Street South.  City Lights had become one of the largest video stores in the Pacific Northwest.

Despite his success, Alan was uncertain the demand for video rentals would continue.  He was quoted in the Seattle Times of July 23, 1991 as visualizing a system where movies would be distributed to homes by satellite forcing outlet stores to concentrate primarily on specialty videos.  City Lights began its decline when the City of issaquah converted Front Street from two way to a single arterial street that became choiked with bumper to bumper traffic twice daily.  Regular customers fround it difficult to get the the store.  It was difficult to attract new customers.  Alan’s lease did not allow him to move the business.  This impediment, coupled with his own concerns for future growth, led him to the decision to close the business.  On September 1, 1995, City Lights held a sale of its stock of nearly 13,000 films.  When Alan opened the doors at 7 a.m., he found a line of customers stretching more than two blocks.  Some had come from as far as Los Angeles.  Some had waited all night.

Afte closing the business, Alan went to work as the video buyer for Movieola Video in Redmond, Washington.  When Anne, Brandy, Duke, and I visited him in January of 2000, he considered himself semi retired, taking part time openings that interested him.  He had one experience at a hardware store where his employer put him out on the floor without any training.  He resigned, confessing he knew less about home repairs than most of the customers and, in attempting to answer their questions, probably did them more harm than good.  At that time, Inge was working at the Bright Horizons Preschool.  While she was at work, Alan took a day to show us the surrounding area and some of his favorite haunts in Seattle which included the Mighty Mouse Toy Store, the Northwest Gallery of Fine Woodwork, and the Elliot Bookstore.

I never saw Alan again.  We traded emails from time to time as well as cards at Christmas.  His diabetes worsened to the point his feet had to be amputated.  I spoke with him by phone after the operation.  He was in good spirits, seemed to be adjusting to his condition without complaint, and even managed to joke about it a bit.  His 2007 Christmas contained a note that he and Inge were expecting to become grandparents, “December 30 or so.”  Rosalind arrived a day ahead of schedule in Palo Alto.  Alan came to California to see and hold her.  He died on January 9, 2008, shortly after returning home.


  1. Inge was born July 9, 1945 to Jorgen Hartvig Jansen and Helga Bjerg.
  2. My girlfriend and I visited Alan and Inge in Denmark in 1971.  They were wonderful hosts, showing us the sights of Copenhagen and taking us on a day trip to Malmo in Sweden where cigarettes sold for a fraction of the cost in Denmark.  I didn’t smoke, but Alan did and by filling both his and my quotas, he had cigarettes to last several weeks.
  3. by Anne-Marie Schmitz for which he won a Western Books Award in 1979.

    Alan was diagnosed as an adult-onset diabetic in 1976 and began taking insulin several times daily.  On September 19th of that year, the Ligda’s first son, Kenneth Scott, was born at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto.

    In July 1979, on an impulse, alan and Inge decided to move to Washington.  They flew to Seattle.  Two days later, while on a walk, Inge saw a house she liked.  Alan looked it over, agreed, and they bought it.  On October 1, 1979, the famly moved into their new home at 2101 192nd Avenue, SE in Issaquah.  Alan used the garage to house two printing presses and over five tons of foundry type which he used to start Archive Press, a printing/publishing company.  Inge took a job with Ashwood Montessori School in Bellevue.

    From March through November of 1982, Alan worked part time at Videonites, one of the early video rental stores on the east side of Puget Sound.  He enjoyed the work so much, he decided to open his own business.  On august 15, 1983, Alan opened City Lights Video at 40 Front Street in downtown Issaquah.  City Lights was an immediate success.  Within a year, the business outgrew its original 1,000 square foot location.  Alan moved the business to 98 Front Street South where he had 3,500 square feet.  Alan bought films agressively concentrating on classics, foreign, fine art, and family movies.  He said he drew on the: ” . . . experience I gained while cutting classes and going to movies as a teenager.” 4 Alan had also worked at the Palo Alto Film Festival in the 1970’s writing their programs and doing typesetting.  During this period he met his lifelong friend,             who later became the projectionist for the Stanford Theatre and was eqully knowledgable about movies.  Alan often commented, if asked a question about a film he didn’t know, “Ernie would know that.”