Civic Leader Remembered For Political Peacemaking

Photo: Harry Weininger.
Harry Weininger.

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Local leader, political mediator and West Berkeley "pioneer" Harry Weininger passed away May 31 after suffering a heart attack. He was 76.

Weininger is credited with revitalizing West Berkeley and bringing together community members in Berkeley's often fragmented political scene.

"My father had the amazing ability to believe in people in such a way that their self-confidence grew," said his daughter, Carmi Weininger. "He would have such a belief in someone that they would take courage in his conviction."

Born September 28, 1933 in the Carpathian Mountain region of Ukraine, Weininger immigrated to the U.S. in 1950 with his parents.

After a stint in the Army he graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1958, later earning a bachelor's degree at the University of Chicago.

Weininger settled in Berkeley in 1963, becoming the owner of The Carpet Center at 8th and Parker Streets in 1966. As the business expanded, he became a key part of the revitalization of West Berkeley, reaching out to neighboring businesses to form an informal merchant's association.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Weininger became involved in several civic organizations, serving as the president of the Chamber of Commerce and participating as a member of the Rotary Club of Berkeley, the city's civic arts and planning commissions.

He was involved with the Berkeley Democratic Club for many years as a member of the board of directors and served as its president between 1983 and 1986. In 1988, he earned his Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco before returning to the organization to serve as president pro tem between 1990 and 1996.

Berkeley community members who worked with Weininger remember him for his diligent work bringing together people with different political views, said City Councilmember Susan Wengraf. He was a peacemaker and an excellent mediator, she said.

"With Berkeley's history of being politically fragmented, he was always able to work well with both sides," said Shireen Burns, president of the Berkeley Democratic Club.

Besides being involved in civic and political affairs, Weininger supported many community organizations including the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Berkeley Public Library Foundation. In 2000, he received an honor from the Berkeley Community Fund for his work building consensus in the community.

"He truly thought globally and acted locally," said Ed Church, former executive director of the Berkeley Community Fund.

Weininger will be remembered most for the profound effect he had on the people he worked with, said Carmi Weininger.

A memorial service for Weininger will be held June 27. His family has requested that those interested should contact the family for further details.


Contact Aaida Samad at [email protected]

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