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Robert Bridges, a business and tax attorney and longtime name partner at the San Francisco firm formerly known as Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges, died Tuesday in Walnut Creek. He was 97. Among their memories of Bridges, some of his law partners at what is now Thelen Reid & Priest recalled his loyalty � to his clients, his colleagues, and his alma mater, UC-Berkeley. Though he’d been retired for several years, Bridges was still coming into the office every day until about six months ago, in part to do executor and trustee work for former clients or friends from Cal, said George Argyris, a partner in Thelen’s tax group. “A lot of business clients would call him and still seek his [business] advice,” Argyris said. “He was a real sage.” His main clients were construction companies, like those run by magnates Henry J. Kaiser and Stephen Bechtel Sr. Bridges served as a director of the Bechtel companies for nearly three decades, according to information provided by his firm. “He was tough. Demanding. Detailed. But a great, great educator,” said Argyris. He was also an accomplished negotiator, said of counsel Donald Roberts, a colleague since 1961. “The Internal Revenue Service usually came out on the short end in negotiations with Bob Bridges,” he said. Work was far from his only passion, though. He and his late wife, Alice Rodenberger Bridges, traveled the world for business and pleasure. “And I would say � outside of his family � his passion was Berkeley University, absolutely,” Argyris remembered. He’d gone there for his undergraduate and law degrees, graduating from Boalt Hall School of Law during the Great Depression. In the years since, his involvement with the school included ties to the UC Berkeley Foundation, where he was appointed a lifelong emeritus trustee. At one point Bridges chaired the board. Over the years he also served as a director of Wells Fargo Bank, Consolidated Builders Inc., and Panama Pacific Tankers. He was also a member of the board of trustees for the John Muir Medical Center. Admitted to the State Bar in 1933, Bridges joined what was then Thelen & Marrin and became a partner in 1939. Shortly thereafter, he joined the marquee when the firm became Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges. (It merged with Reid & Priest in 1998.) He is survived by two sons, David Bridges and James Bridges, and a daughter, Linda Bridges Ingham; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Claremont Country Club in Oakland. Contributions in his memory may be made to the University of California, Berkeley Foundation or the John Muir Medical Center.

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