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The Indomitable
Jerry Manpearl



Celebration of Life

Jerry Manpearl died at high noon on March 1, 2023.  Please join us on March 25, 2023 at 2pm at Jan & Jerry’s home, 939 San Vicente Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90402, to Celebrate the Life of Jerry Manpearl.

About the memorial: Parking will be limited — please carpool. We will be outside. Weather is predicted to be sunny, but only about 60° and with a breeze. Dress is “garden casual“, but more importantly, dress warmly and in layers (think jacket, scarf, gloves and even a blanket).

Please pass this invitation on to any other friends of Jerry who may not have received this invitation yet. For those that cannot attend, there will be a video of the memorial.

Please click on one of the below to RSVP, no later than March 22nd, if possible, as we need to make sure we have enough chairs! (On the next page, update the family with your current contact information.)

Will you be attending the Memorial, March 25, 2pm?
(Note: please come only if you are vaccinated.)

What happened?

After suffering from a gallbladder attack and having it removed, Jerry suffered from what turned out to be a fatal case of pneumonia. During his three weeks in the hospital, Jerry remained sharp and retained his acute wit and sense of humor. A day after getting his ventilator removed, Jerry died March 1st at high noon after putting up a good fight… for 85 years.

The tenacity with which Jerry faced his final weeks reflects the incomparable vigor with which he approached life: he fought for causes he believed in, worked hard to be able to take his 14 person family on regular adventures, and pursued seemingly frivolous desires, like flying a plane or racing a car through Mexico, with gusto.

Click here to read Terry’s article in the LA Progressive, which Jerry requested be written about Lili Haydn, Grammy award winning violinist and family friend) serenading him in the ICU.

Also, see Charles Andrews’ article in the Santa Monica Daily Press about Walgreens — specifically, where Charles talks about his friend and “local luminary Jerry Manpearl”, and about Jerry’s last days and how he faced them.

In lieu of flowers…

Jerry’s absence leaves an unfillable void, but he survives through those who loved and learned from him. One way you can honor Jerry is by donating to one of the following organizations he devoted countless hours to during his life, instead of bringing or sending flowers to the service. Please let the family know of any donations so that they can thank you!

Sholem Community

Sholem Community: Jan and Jerry have been long time devoted members and supporters of Sholem, from which daughter Terry graduated and became Bas Mitzvah. Jerry was part of the Sholem Community which is a progressive, welcoming, multi-generational organization that furthers secular Jewish identity with a school, secular holiday, adult activities, and life-cycle observances.

Donate at the link above, or send checks to:
P.O. Box 4508
Culver City, CA 9023

Sholem Community

New Day Pacifica: Since the early ‘60’sJerry has represented KPFK Radio (90.7 fm), Pacifica and or its members on a number of occasions, while Jan has been in the leadership of KPFK and Pacifica, leading The New Day Pacifica fight to reform KPFK and Pacifica to make them more relevant and viable. During the last two years he led the legal team representing New Day Pacifica.

Donate at the link above, or send checks to:
New Day Pacifica
5627 Telegraph Ave, Suite 116
Oakland CA 94609

Sholem Community

ADA: Jerry was an active member of ADA for decades, including some time both as its treasurer and on its national executive board; it was the political organization that Jan and Jerry have been the most active with. Americans for Democratic Action is the nation’s most experienced organization committed to progressive politics, progressive policies, and a progressive future, and is notably not part of the Democratic Party, but is devoted to pushing it and the country to the left.

Donate at the link above.

Jerry Manpearl’s Bio

Written by wife Jan Goodman and daughter Terry Manpearl

Jerry Manpearl was born December 27, 1937 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Annette Ticktin Manpearl and Morris/Morie Manpearl. When Jerry was about 5 years old, they moved to Hollywood, where he and his sister, Ellen, who was about 3 years older than Jerry, grew up. Morris managed a trailer park where Jerry recalled many memories, notably that he thought TV was only for watching fights, because the only thing he ever saw the tenants of the park watch were wrestling and boxing matches. Annette was one of the first female stockbrokers, but ended up making a living as a teacher. Jerry’s parents divorced when he was in high school, and Morris soon after married Pauline; she had two sons, who became Jerry’s bonus brothers: (another)  Jerry and Denny.

Although his grandparents were observant Jews, Jerry grew up in a secular family environment, meaning the Manpearls’ Jewish identity was culture-based (rather than religious) and intrinsically linked to their progressive politics and activism. Jerry found his cultural ideological match in Jan, and they instilled this in their daughter Terry, whose Bat Mitzvah process with the Sholem Community included a research project about progressive, secular Jewish thought.

Raised in a progressive house ripe with hands-on activism and an emphasis on education, Jerry was political from a young age and naturally gravitated towards both the Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Jerry got his B.A. from Berkeley at the end of the 1950s, in what became the precursor to the Free Speech movement, and participated in San Francisco demonstrations at the Federal Building against the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in May 1960.

Jerry was inspired to become a lawyer by his legal hero, Clarence Darrow, affectionately known as ‘The Attorney for the Damned’. Darrow was most recognizably the defense attorney during the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, where a science teacher was arrested for teaching evolution at a public highschool in Tennessee. Darrow was the voice of the voiceless – he took controversial stances, such as: there is no such thing as crime as we modernly define it – all people are products of their circumstances. Jerry echoed this philosophical approach often; most times, when people asked him how he made his money, his reply was, “I went to law school when it was $250 a semester”, often followed by a lesson about inflation, the price of education, that a public college education used to be virtually free and could be free again, and wealth inequality.

Jerry received his Law degree at UCLA in 1963 where he was a member of Law Review from 1961-1964. He later clerked for Justice Clement Shinn, Chief Justice of the California Courts of Appeal, which he would regard as an immutable part of his legal education.

In 1964, Jerry and his first wife, Sandra Averbach, had their first child, David. Jeff was born a year later, and their daughter, Karen, was born in 1970.  Jerry’s first fundraiser at his house was for “The real  Dr. Benjamin Spock”, when he ran for president in 1972 for The People’s Party. 

After clerking, Jerry joined a small business law firm downtown, where he defended people arrested in the 1965 Watts Riots, as part of the ACLU.  After participating in the infamous 1967 Century City Anti-Vietnam War demonstration-turned-police-riot at a Lyndon Johnson fundraiser, he again defended demonstrators for the ACLU. Jerry’s participation in both of these defenses was pro-bono, the beginning of a trend for his legal work. Early in his legal career, Jerry was the appointed attorney for a young girl convicted of murdering her mother, resulting in a reversal with no retrial, on the unusual grounds that “the evidence did not inspire confidence”. This gruesome case made him realize he did not want to do criminal law, as it was too depressing, and a short time in family law led him to the same conclusion.

After a short stint teaching contracts at a law school in the 1970s, Jerry continued his business and litigation practice, representing both large and small corporations and artists. His time on the Board of, and as director and President of The Southern California Foreign Trade Association (the largest foreign trade association in California) led to his writing and lobbying in Sacramento for trade related legislation that eventually came before the United States Supreme Court in 1981, in a case involving the commerce clause of the constitution.

In 1982, Jerry met Jan Goodman, in the elevator at a law office Christmas Party. He said it was that first night that he knew she was the one he was going to spend his life with. They got married in Cuba, when they were both part of a National Lawyers Guild Delegation to the island. Together they have one daughter, Terry, who was born in 1996.

Jerry was an intellectual – his home with Jan is stuffed to the gills with books and anyone who knew Jerry is familiar with the opinions he would write outlining his innovative solutions to current political and economic issues (sometimes utopian, but always insightful and pensive). Several articles which he penned, have been published – most recently one regarding gun control.  His ideology can be described as secular humanist, progressive, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-war, pro-working class, pro-welfare, and feminist, with a sprinkle of U.S. Communism. But his outlook was so much grander than its parts. Jerry always put his time and money where his mouth was and was devoted to causes, organizations, and people he believed made a positive difference. He and wife Jan regularly prepared and distributed analysis and recommendations prior to each election, which ultimately influenced hundreds if not thousands of voters who relied on their progressive research, perspective and advice to guide how they would vote.

He often mentioned Germany for one of two reasons – to talk about driving on the Autobahn or to mention their progressive traffic ticketing system. He loved the story of a very wealthy German man who had gotten a $25,000 speeding ticket. His politics were driven by a perspective that put working class people first; he was a supporter of labor unions and did legal work for artists in exchange for their work more than a few times. He was one of the founders, and the lawyer, for The Museum of African American Art and a co-founder and Director of the Paul Robeson/Southside Community Center, in South Central L.A. He was also a Director of  Air New Orleans.

A sucker for a good story, this brilliant legal mind represented a number of internationally famous artists (which accounts for Jan and Jerry’s large and varied art collection), small-time investors, and promising inventors, along with massive corporations, like Lockheed Aircraft. In addition to his legal work for artists, Jerry was a fan of many artists, notably: Cliff Tasner’s ‘Billionaires for Bush’, the guerrilla-comedy play I’m Gonna Kill the President (where we collectively committed a felony in Manpearl’s backyard by shouting the play’s name), Ian Ruskin’s plays (namely The Harry Bridge’s Project and plays about Thomas Payne’s Common Sense), Ross Altman’s political satire music, and KB Solomon, whose electrifying baritone delivers Paul Robeson songs flawlessly.

At their home together in Venice, the couple was known for their yearly Halloween parties, which always had a costume contest with attractive prizes, such as a trip to Hawaii for two. Coincidentally, Jan and Jerry always seemed to win the grand prize. With mutual prioritization on their ability to host, paraphrasing Journalist Ed Rampell — they together acquired a low-slung brick house built in France’s Loire Valley style on a half-acre of land in Santa Monica. Jan and Jerry immediately opened their spacious grounds: they moved in on a Wednesday and their first fundraiser took place the following Sunday, featuring New Left lion Tom Hayden.

Already involved in many of the same organizations, Jan and Jerry’s ideological and social parallels made them the perfect party-planning duo. Together, they continued Jerry’s inclination to support losing candidates who inspire hope, when they later held a fundraiser for presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich at an event where he, and Gore Vidal spoke and when they met KB Solomon who sang at the eve; Kucinich said that this was his most successful fundraiser nationwide.

For almost 40 years, Jan and Jerry hosted countless events to benefit and highlight left-leaning causes, issues, organizations and individuals, which will continue through Jan. Their home in Santa Monica has been a stage for local progressive politics for many years. They have also hosted events for many congress members (Senator Barbara Boxer, Ted Lieu, Adam Schiff, Alan Grayson, Cory Bush), candidates (such as Ohio State Senator Nina Turner – Co-Chair of Bernie Sanders campaigns– who Jerry regarded as one of the most electrifying speakers he’s hosted). He/thy never neglected local electeds and candidates, and most recently hosted an event for Mayor Karen Bass when she was running for the position. They also annually host The Santa Monica Democratic Club’s Sammies Awards, as well as the annual fundraisers for: ADA , Sholem, and the California Physicians Alliance’s (CaPA’s) Medicare for All Party.  

Jan and Jerry have opened their house with graciousness and generosity for decades. Many were lucky enough to attend these events, but few are privy to the stimulating conversation and debates that took place on the patio after most people had left. He knew so much about so many things and he was just as generous in sharing that knowledge as he was in sharing his home.

Jan and Jerry also did a great deal of legal work together, notably in saving progressive Retirement Home, Sunset Hall, and their ongoing fights to keep KPFK and Pacifica vital. When wife Jan led the fight to prevent Sunset Hall from being sold, he sued Sunset Hall’s then board of directors, and when the court issued an injunction preventing the sale, the board gave up, resigned, and after a new election, Jan was elected as Chairman and President of the Board.

Jerry became involved with independent, listener supported KPFK radio (90.7 fm) and Pacifica –which he saw as key to independent journalism, and thus democracy in this country– in the 1960’s. One aspect of this relationship began as a friend of the producers of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which was sponsored by KPFK. He ended up running the lemonade stands for many years with one volunteer hat, and then with another, he twice participated in litigation against Ventura County, when the county refused to issue permits to allow the Faire to open, as a result red baiting against KPFK.  Over the years, he has represented KPFK and Pacifica or their members on a number of occasions, and during the last two years has represented Pacific members and New Day Pacifica, which are attempting to revitalize KPFK and Pacifica which has recently suffered from declining membership and donations. 

He was also a long time Director of ADA (Americans For Democratic Action of Southern California), The Santa Monica Democratic Club, Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, as well as Director of the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (creators of low cost housing), the Alcott Center For Mental Health, and a devoted member and supporter of Sholem, a progressive, secular Jewish community and school, from which daughter Terry graduated and became Bas Mitzvah.

Jerry was a natural risk taker and adventurer leading to his becoming a private pilot and driving his race car numerous times in La Carrera Pan Americana (through Mexico from Guatemala to Texas); he was a biker, skier, scuba diver and traveler. During a (failed) hunting trip in Northern California, Jerry and his friends found themselves having a great time in a small, secluded bar. Upon discovering that the bar was for sale, he and one of his buddies bought the town and bar of Seneca, and co-ran it for years. The land only had the bar and a couple of run-down cabins on it, and in addition to its life as a bar, it was mostly used for family vacations and a yearly music festival, which came to be regarded by the press as the ‘Woodstock of the West’.

Jerry didn’t live as extravagantly as his house might suggest – most of his money was spent on activism/philanthropy and exciting trips for his entourage of 14 family members. His annual family vacations included local trips to Carpinteria Beach (just south of Santa Barbara), but also included a cruise through the melting ice caps of Alaska, a safari in Africa, and scuba diving in the Dominican Republic.

Family was incredibly important to Jerry, and his was large. With scores of extended and unofficial family, it is an understatement to say that Jerry lived a life full of many characters and adventures. Jerry was a father-figure to many beyond his bloodline and will be remembered by many for his guidance and wisdom.

Jerry’s oldest son, David, is a computer programmer. He and his wife Nancy live in Venice Beach and have two children together, Zach and Izzy. Zach is an adventurer in exaggerated Jerry-form: he biked from Venice Beach to China, and has now gotten into sailboats. Izzy is an incredible artist and lives in Lake Tahoe. 

Jeff, Jerry’s second child, is an architect and artist; you have more than likely seen his metal and glass sculptures that adorn every corner of Jerry and Jan’s home in Santa Monica (notably the three statues on the corner of San Vicente that he recently made). Jeff and his architect wife, Charlene, have two sons, Matthew (studying computer engineering at UC Merced) and Ray (15).

Jerry’s older daughter, Karen, is a Labor and Delivery nurse at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, where she lives with her husband, Simon Kiefer. Karen’s daughter, Keenan, is in a Ph.D. program in Denver, studying computational biology. Karen has three step-daughters via Simon: Jackie, Kristen, and Sarah.

Terry, Jerry’s youngest, is planning to attend law school in 2024. She is part of Journalist Greg Palast’s staff and operates a non-profit that provides support for arrested protesters, including fundraising bail money.