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* adorable baby born to Florence and Harold Goldstein in Chattanooga Tennessee * annoying older brother to Robert in Patchogue New York * ham radio operator # W B 2 E M J * playwright for Patchogue HS friends theater group * Syracuse University PoliSci major * hippy, manager of rock band - The Virgin Birth * marijuana cultivator in parent’s backyard * competitive chess player * boyfriend to Barbara * drove cross country during Watergate scandal with 2 cats, Peter and Jack, in overheating Plymouth Valiant * attended Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles taking classes at night and working in the library by day. Ranked #1 in class * transferred to UC Berkeley Boalt Law School where he took up sailing * proud father to Jesse 1978 * proud father to Brett 1990 * proud father-in-law to Kim 2015 * proud grandpapa to Francisco 2016 * proud grandpapa to Harrison 2018 * proud grandpapa to Oscar (Obi) 2020
Sam always took pride in his birthplace. It was a bit of an oddity but his great grandparents on his dad’s side had come from what is now Belarus and settled in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Sam was born. He only lived there through toddlerhood yet he was always quick to slip into a southern drawl to pinpoint his roots.
His family soon moved up to Patchogue, Long Island, New York. Harold, his dad, was employed by his father-in-law at his car dealership where he worked his entire life. Harold had hoped to inherit the business but, for some unknown reason, he was slighted by his father-in-law who sold the business to someone else. The new owner became his boss until Harold retired.
They say we are attracted to those most like us. Sam and Barbara had very different personalities but clearly, if you were to describe either of them physically, at the time they met, there would be many commonalities. Except for a height discrepancy, Sam being 6’1″ and Barbara 5’2″, they both had what was called “Jewfros”. Mops of big curly hair. Lots of it. Both wore pink glasses.
Sam and Barbara spied each other in the library at Syracuse University. She was on a break from studying. Sam was managing a rock-‘n-roll band. Sam wasn’t studying. He was marketing his band, The Virgin Birth, handing out flyers for their upcoming performance at The Jabberwocky, the university pub. With a big, charming smile, he handed Barbara a flyer and asked her to come to it. And so she did. The band’s performance was actually their first “date,” if you can call it that. The rest is history.
They met during the time of the VietNam war, a time of rebellion. Free love. Drugs. Rock-‘n-roll. And Sam thought he was going to make it big in rock-‘n-roll with his band. He managed the “business” side.
All the while, he’d be proclaiming to his mother that he was anti-establishment and would rub it into her any chance he could get. He was even banished from his home because his mother couldn’t handle his big hair look and patched jeans. The marijuana he planted in his parents’ backyard didn’t help.
Law school truly was his calling. Spend five minutes with Sam and you would be lectured to, and likely to find yourself in an argument even when there was no disagreement.
Ultimately, Barbara successfully convinced Sam to follow this calling to attend law school. Owing to his less than stellar undergraduate GPA, he was accepted to a third-tier law school in Southern California.
Sam’s grandmother gifted him with an old Plymouth Valiant. So, Sam and Barbara packed up their two cats, Jack and Peter, their minimal belongings and off they went.
While in law school he found a job working in the school library during the day and attending classes at night. He began to flourish. He was a rising star. The professors loved him. He ran study groups. It seemed that people joined these groups to learn from Sam. He became the school’s “torts king”. He was first in his class.
With such success, it was time to move on, to a first-rate law school – Berkeley Law School, then known as Boalt Law. He had wisely turned down an offer from Michigan. Imagine how different their lives would have been!
It was a lively, exciting time living in a small, one-bedroom apartment close to campus. Now at Berkeley he was no longer a big fish in a small pond. Everyone was as brilliant as he. He loved and respected his professors and enjoyed the challenges of this sophisticated community.
After the first year they applied for and were accepted to UC Married Student Housing. Not yet married, but plans were in the works. They “upgraded” to a 2-bedroom in the prefabs of University Village for $99/month. Although not quite as convenient to campus, it was close to the Berkeley Marina.
It was during his time at UC Berkeley that Sam discovered sailing at the Cal Sailing Club. He wasn’t sailing for relaxation. He was racing, appealing to his competitive nature. His racing skills found him positions on larger yachts as the navigator for many Bay and Ocean races. Sam never did anything half-baked. At Syracuse, he had taken up chess and became a competitor in the Chess Club. Along with his love of music and his efforts to avoid the draft, he would commit his efforts 110%. And now it was sailing and law school.
The sailing passion continued for a long time. Sam so wanted Barbara to enjoy it with him. But it wasn’t for her as she would get so sick on a sail that she’d pray for a wave to wash her overboard to end the suffering. So, Sam would go it alone. Sort of.
He had a great sailing community. He raced a few times a week. Yes. Evenings, after school or work, he would be out there. And with each sail, Barbara panicked. The weather could be very rough in the Bay. Especially in the summer. She remembers waiting for him while listening on the radio during a terrible storm as she heard of the threatening winds and lost vessels. Phew. He made it back. All he could say was he loved it! The wilder the sail, the better the sail.
Sam and Barbara lived together for quite a few years. It was not exactly sanctioned by their parents. Fast forward, while at Berkeley, Barbara convinced Sam that they should marry to keep the peace in the family. (No, he never proposed. That would be too establishment.)
Sam remained the avid sailor throughout. Even when both had full-time jobs and baby Jesse entered their lives, sailing was still his passion. He graduated to larger boats and bigger races. He was the navigator on many SF Bay and ocean races. He might even have won a few.
Perhaps one of his perfect “cases” was when he was able to marry his love of sailing with his passion for the law. He was selected to defend Russ Sylvestry, an Olympic sailing contender who was disqualified on a technicality. Sam was at his best working with a team to get Russ reinstated. Among the team members was Amy Tan. Sam came home one day and shared his frustration with her, exclaiming that he told her she didn’t know how to write! Right! Well, right or wrong, Sam never held back. You always knew what he was thinking.
With all of his passion directed at law and sailing, he was crazy about their first boy, Jesse. Although he was never one to take him to a playground he would sing Beatles songs to him to help him sleep. For both kids he shared the responsibilities of getting them up and ready for school.
After moving to Walnut Creek for better schools and a new house, the Bay was less convenient. It was then that Sam’s passion turned to running. He would always demand that Barbara wait for him to accompany her on her runs. Inevitably, they would start together, then he would take off and leave her in the dust. Eventually, he would circle back to her with a big smile. Barbara was never sure if he was checking on her or rubbing in the fact that he was so much faster.
Even before they moved to Walnut Creek, Sam was working for Alborg and Dictor. They were an Oakland firm but soon followed on to Walnut Creek. Sam threw himself into his work with his usual passion. But a few years later the firm reorganized and Sam struck out on his own.
He was soon operating Samuel E Goldstein and Associates. Of course, this meant longer hours and more responsibilities. They had an au pair for baby Brett so Sam had his mornings free. No, he didn’t go to work. He went to Peet’s —for the coffee, the friendship, the crossword puzzle, his next passion. Then he took up Sudoku (be sure to pronounce it correctly, it’s Japanese) and cryptoquick.
As with everything he took on, Sam was thoroughly invested in the success of both Jesse and Brett. From cheering them on at baseball games, taking too much responsibility in making their pinewood derby race cars — yes, they were winners — to hounding them for better grades. He made sure that they would find their way into the best universities. Sam was at them to succeed. He maintained a great sense of pride, knowing that he and Barbara contributed to bringing two amazing, kind, wonderful men into this world— never taking total responsibility for their success, but obviously, not getting in their way.
Samuel Elliot Goldstein
Walnut Creek, California