Philip Milton Lehrman was born into two religious traditions in Denver, Colo. – the Swedish Lutheran Church and Judaism -- that, at the time, had little regard for one another. When he died Jan. 1, 2014, at age 85 in Hayward, Calif., a third had won his heart.Lehrman became an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood in 2011 after being baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints one year earlier. Lehrman, who embraced study and service throughout his life, visited families to teach, learn and help provide for their needs.
In later life Lehrman also treasured his reconnection with his Jewish roots and cousins around the country, a linkage spurred by the 1986 centennial celebration of the family’s immigration from Russia to America.
Lehrman’s friends remember his talent for teaching, whether it be math, real estate law or dance steps. He lectured at Cogswell Polytechnical College, Diablo Valley College and Western Nevada College. He combined meticulous attention to detail with curiosity about the world and the many people he met. He served in the Alameda County Cabrillo Civic Club No. 11 executive leadership for several years, including chairing the scholarship program, visiting state council quarterly meetings and handling publicity, and the Lion’s Club.
Friends also smile recalling his love of dancing, which he taught in his youth at the famed Rainbow Ballroom in Denver and enjoyed well into his final months as part of the Cabrillo Civic Club dances and Five Spot at the Hayward-Castro Valley Moose Lodge.
He did break rules, sometimes to his daughters’ delight – when, for instance, he concealed the family dog in a wriggling cloth suitcase in order to sneak their pet into a snooty four-star hotel.
Lehrman graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, earning a bachelor of science in architectural engineering in 1951. After working on federal government projects in Denver, he moved to San Francisco as a district engineer for Shell Oil Co. Later he focused primarily on real estate management and appraisal, also becoming an independent business owner in enterprises including home security and retail liquor. An innovator, he foresaw the nation’s demographic changes and syndicated his own radio show from Las Vegas, Nev., called Voice of Seniors.
Lehrman is survived by his daughter, Sally and her husband, Tom; and his companion of 12 years, Marjorie Sparaco. Services will be held Jan. 18, 10 a.m., at the LDS Chapel at 26101 Gading Rd., Hayward. Lehrman’s life was characterized by the ups and downs of bipolar disorder, and donations in his memory may be made to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
Provided by Sally Lehrman