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David Levy, a past State Bar president and leader in the Contra Costa County legal community, died on Monday of natural causes. He was 87. “He was universally respected,” said Levy’s former law partner, M. James Schwartz of Concord’s Schwartz & Alexander. The World War II veteran was elected to lead the State Bar in 1978 while he was a solo practitioner �� a rare feat in Bar politics, said retired Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge James Trembath, another former partner. Levy’s criminal justice career began in 1947 when he joined the California Highway Patrol. After law school, he worked as a Contra Costa County prosecutor. In addition to maintaining his own private law practice, he also served as city attorney in Concord, Pittsburg and Pinole. “He was a gifted counsel but he retained the common touch,” said Philip Tavlian, a judicial attorney for the Fifth District Court of Appeal whose father served with Levy in the Air Corps. Tavlian said Levy was a man of integrity equally comfortable meeting with State Bar honchos and chatting with Fresno farmers. Back at his Concord law office, Levy had a jovial relationship with colleagues, Trembath recalled. Levy was a spellbinding storyteller who could recite limericks from memory and would buy ice cream cones for the office, the retired judge said. One of the last cases that Levy handled, a dispute between Rodeo’s sanitary district and Contra Costa County over garbage service, led to a 1999 appellate opinion that strengthened the power of special districts, Schwartz said. Levy was born and raised in San Francisco. He served in the U.S. Air Corps in the Philippines during World War II and was captured during the fall of Bataan in 1942. Although he survived the Death March, Levy was a war prisoner in Manchuria for nearly four years. He received a Bronze Star for his heroism. After the war, Levy went to law school and started a family, but his battlefield experiences stayed with him, said his daughter, Lynn Lindsey. As a prisoner, Levy taught himself how to play the harmonica, a skill he kept for life. Because Levy nearly starved to death, the lawyer always kept an emergency cache of food handy, she said. When he wasn’t at work, Levy was a gentleman farmer who raised bees, fruit trees, chickens and vegetables. Levy enjoyed boating and often took his family on outings in the Delta. Levy’s kids were exposed to the law early because they came with him to the office. As a youngster, Lindsey remembers giving her 5-year-old sister a mock deposition. But Levy’s family ties never interfered with his client’s confidentiality, his daughter said. “A friend of mine recently told me, ‘Your dad did my parents’ divorce,’” Lindsey said. “He never told me.” Levy is survived by three daughters by his late wife Corrine: Lindsey, Diane Levy and Gayle Eidelson. Levy is survived by his second wife, Phyllis Robinson, whom he married in 1978, and her daughters, Alice Simikic, Pamela McDowell, Bharbara Foxcroft and Marjorie Beachhill. A memorial service will be held at 1:15 p.m. Nov. 7 at Temple Isaiah, 3800 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any remembrances be sent to the American Veterans Memorial Program, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301.

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