Local civil rights attorney Robert Treuhaft dies in NY

The Associated Press
Tuesday November 13, 2001

NEW YORK — Robert Treuhaft, an attorney prominent in San Francisco leftist circles and the region’s civil rights movement since the 1940s, died Sunday after a brief illness. He was 89. 

Along with his wife, muckraking journalist Jessica “Decca” Mitford, Treuhaft was a fixture among the Bay Area’s left-leaning political set, and their home became an international political and literary outpost. 

Treuhaft defended blacks beaten up by police in Oakland after World War II and supported the Black Panther Party and the draft-resisting Oakland Seven during the Vietnam War. He also helped develop Mitford’s 1963 expose of the funeral industry, “The American Way of Death.” 

Treuhaft was known for a rollicking wit and bohemian sensibility. 

The couple met in Washington, D.C., where Treuhaft was a lawyer working on the staff of a government agency that handled price control and rationing. They moved to Oakland in 1943. 

Treuhaft was born in New York City and died there, at the home of his daughter, Constancia Romilly, with family by his side. He had recently moved to New York, leaving the Oakland home he shared with Mitford from 1960 until her death in 1996. 

Family members did not immediately disclose the cause of death. He will be eulogized at a memorial to be held in the Bay Area early next year.