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Richard Dinkelspiel, a longtime San Francisco civil litigator and former member of the State Bar Board of Governors, died Jan. 14 after a bout with pneumonia. He was 91. Dinkelspiel spent most of his career as an “old-fashioned” general practitioner, taking on everything from antitrust and probate to family and civil rights cases, said his son, Richard Dinkelspiel Jr. But, above all, he was known as “a dean of the commercial litigation bar,” said Lenard Weiss of Steefel, Levitt & Weiss, who practiced with the elder Dinkelspiel for many years. Weiss said Dinkelspiel displayed enthusiasm for baseball and three-piece suits — sometimes at the same time. “He would be sitting at his desk in his vest and listening to the Giants,” he said. Dinkelspiel also was passionate about his large family and UC-Berkeley, where he went to college and law school. Following his graduation from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1937, he became a justice of the peace in Suisun City. But when World War II broke out, he entered the U.S. Army and served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, his son said. After the military, Dinkelspiel practiced for many years with his cousins at Dinkelspiel & Dinkelspiel, which was founded by his uncle. Weiss, who was mentored by Dinkelspiel there, recalls their 1969 departure to form the six-lawyer Dinkelspiel, Steefel, Levitt, Weiss & Donovan. A decade later that firm split to form Steefel, Levitt & Weiss and Dinkelspiel, Donovan & Reder. (The latter shut its doors about 11 years ago.) In and outside of the law, Dinkelspiel seemed to be “president of everything,” Weiss said, including the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Commonwealth Club of California. He was also very active in The Family, a San Francisco theater, music and art club, and the Saint Thomas More Society. Dinkelspiel is survived by his wife of 65 years, Miriam of San Rafael, and five children: Susan Cerny of Berkeley, Robin Miller of Kentfield, Joan Dinkelspiel of Seattle, Anne Dinkelspiel Howd of Berkeley, and Richard Dinkelspiel Jr. of San Rafael.

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