Diane Woolley Bauer, 1932- 2019

Carol Denney
Friday June 28, 2019 - 11:10:00 AM
Diane Bauer  1932-2019
Diane Bauer 1932-2019

She was a muck-raking investigative reporter, a cab driver, a U. S. Senate press aide, a merchant seaman, and a mother of four who served on Berkeley's Waterfront Commission as well as two terms on the Berkeley City Council. She was briefly hospitalized, and died surrounded by family on June 7th, 2019 after a few years of declining health. She leaves a legacy of extraordinary work both as a journalist and as a Berkeley councilmember dedicated to serving District 5's neighborhoods.

Diane Woolley Bauer's father was a writer with MGM in Los Angeles, where she was born, but had been a commander in the British Royal Navy who served in World War I. He was called back for World War II and stationed in Jamaica, where Diane spent a portion of her young life. After the war the family moved to Washington D.C. where during her college years Diane took a two-week job as a vacation replacement for what was then called a copy girl at the Washington Post and her career as an investigative reporter began.

She became the youngest reporter in Washington D.C. Then-owner of the Post, Eugene Meyer, set aside the rule requiring that reporters have a college degree to put Bauer in charge of what is now called the Style section of the Post covering "politicians, diplomats and debutantes", as she put it, doing the layout and writing an advice column for college girls under her picture and byline. It should go without saying that women were an uncommon part of such workplaces.

She continued to work part-time as a young wife and mother writing ad copy, serving as a U.S. Senate press aide and a campaign director, but excelled as a self-taught journalist. She is credited for doubling the Washington Daily News' Maryland circulation with her hard-driving public interest stories, often scooping the full-timer reporters at the Washington Post and Evening Star. When the Daily News folded into the Evening Star she was one of the few reporters who were kept on. She wrote, investigated, and consulted for public interest research and law firms working special assignments for Newsweek, CBS television, panels, and documentaries such as ABC's "The Paper Prison" specializing in courts, police and prisons, juvenile detention, privacy and records-keeping, and medical ethics. One of her pieces on juvenile offenders' treatment provoked a letter from J. Edgar Hoover defending the FBI's procedures; she kept the letter.

Her work was so thorough it is cited in several books on civil liberties, behavior modification, privacy, and bioethics as well as some Supreme Court cases. Her writing is credited for playing a role in highlighting atrocities and instituting reforms at Maryland's infamous Patuxent Institution where she revealed an expensive behavior modification scandal. Author Nat Hentoff wrote a story about her tireless investigative journalism, including the illumination of "a hitherto hidden form a secret intelligence unit to combat organized crime" which her writing revealed arranged to violate, among other things, privacy laws. The unit had to be scrapped.

Diane Woolley Bauer left an indelible mark on her North Berkeley neighbors who knew her tirelessness in tracking down and fixing neighborhood problems:

"When huge gasoline tanker trucks rumbled unnecessary blocks through our neighborhood, Ms. Bauer, a grandmother, left her home late at night to follow them to their destinations, interviewed the drivers as to route problems, went to the city traffic engineering department to research, and advised and them cajoled public officials until the matter was cured." - Kiran Singh, President, King-Grove Neighborhood Association.

Singh, in a letter recommending Diane receive the Outstanding Berkeley Woman award, cites Diane as having organized a drive collecting over 500 signatures to win a change in bus routing, alerting the neighborhood to a chemical spill, spending hours helping a disoriented senior, and reorganizing the park sprinkler schedule so children at play wouldn't get wet. She took that sense of civic engagement to the City Council for two terms under the slogan "Results, Not Rhetoric", where she at times confounded both factions with her independence. She was unfailingly dignified and thorough in requests for clarification from the city manager or the city attorney even if the rest of the council was impatient to move along. Her remarks were eloquent, concise, and touched with a writer's wit. She created a newsletter just for her neighborhood called "The Neighborhood" with news specific to her district promoting benefits, connecting neighbors, and highlighting issues.

"She was the true independent on the Council," said LA Wood, whose work with Carolyn Erbele documenting two notorious groundwater contamination scandals earned Diane's admiration and in some cases her vote. "She would listen. She had respect for the public."

Most people only leave the Berkeley City Council when they're voted out of office, or are about to be booted. But Diane Woolley-Bauer resigned after two terms, something almost unheard of. Her letter of resignation in July of 2000 is full of kindness, thanks for the education on "the perplexities and complexities of city government", and ends with a comic "P.S. When you have a chance, ask the next Council to increase the budget for fixing the sewers."

She is survived by her siblings Marion Mattingly and Herbert Woolley, former husband Robert Moore, her four children; Marion "George" Moore, Kathleen Romero, William Bauer, and Mona Bauer, and her grandson Alejandro Romero. Memorial plans are pending. Contact: