Remembering Fred Harvey, founder of Camp Elmwood, active in Berkeley’s parks, schools, neighborhoods

The son of vaudeville actors, Harvey was co-president of the Emerson PTA during integration and helped preserve the Elmwood Theatre.

Frederic L. Harvey. Courtesy: Harvey family

Frederic L. Harvey, a local attorney and long-time contributor to the Berkeley community, died peacefully in his sleep on Dec. 22, 2021. 

Fred was born on Oct. 14, 1928, in San Francisco, and grew up in the city’s Sunset district during the depression and World War II. His father survived San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake and worked as a comedic vaudeville actor, car salesman, World War II shipyard worker and craftsman. His mother performed in traveling vaudeville shows alongside her future husband before both retired from the theater in 1927 to raise their family. 

As a child, Fred was an avid reader with a keen interest in politics and history. His interest was sparked by the 1939 Pageant of the Pacific at Treasure Island where he spent the entire summer playing among the exhibits while his father worked there. During World War II, he attended the newly built Lincoln High School, where he participated in debate and ROTC and was selected to speak at commencement in 1946. While Fred did not experience first-hand the horrors of World War II, his interest in politics and avoiding future conflicts deepened throughout his high school years. He became deeply involved in Junior Statesman of America (now Junior State), where he worked directly with its founder, Professor E.A. Rogers, and served as head counselor at the Montezuma Summer School for Boys in the Santa Cruz Mountains while in college. 

Fred graduated from UC Berkeley, phi beta kappa, in 1950 and from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1953. After serving in the Army in Japan, he settled in Berkeley and began practicing law. His firm, Berkley, Randall and Harvey, was located on Sacramento Street and was the first racially integrated law firm in the Bay Area. In 1973, Fred opened his own law practice on College Avenue in Berkeley’s Elmwood district. From there he worked until 2017, with a practice focused on property, probate and small business litigation. Fred believed strongly that ordinary, middle-class families and small businesses deserved excellent and affordable legal services and strove to provide those services to multiple generations of clients.

Fred and his wife, Marietta, purchased their home in the Willard neighborhood in 1964, raised their three children there and engaged actively in local politics and civic affairs for more than 50 years. They were co-presidents of the Emerson School PTA when “the busses rolled” in 1968 and helped ease the transition to integrated schools. They served together on the Willard Park Citizens Committee that worked with the City of Berkeley to design Willard Park and were founding members of the Willard Neighborhood Association. Fred joined the Berkeley Democratic Club in 1964, worked tirelessly for local and national candidates, and served on Berkeley Democratic Club’s Board of Directors as recently as 2019.  He was a member of the City of Berkeley’s Parks and Recreation Commission in the 1990s, served as president of the Elmwood Merchants Association, played an instrumental role in preserving the Elmwood Theatre for the community and was a board member for the Berkeley Presbyterian Mission Homes. His most effective work was often “behind the scenes” as he was skilled at moving novel issues and ideas forward and helping groups reach consensus. 

Fred Harvey. Credit: Liam Aleguire

As an active and committed member of St. John’s Presbyterian Church since 1957, Fred lived out his passion for developing leadership and strong ethical values in children and youth.  He led groups of middle and high school students for many years and then, at the age of 65, obtained the church’s support to found Camp Elmwood, a secular day camp that focused on ethics, leadership skills and serving the local community.  He presided over Camp Elmwood successfully for more than 20 years and counseled many local teenagers who participated in his popular Teen Leadership Camp and remember him as a mentor and role model. 

Fred’s beloved wife, Marietta, predeceased him in 2015. He is survived by his sister, Ann Rosing; his children, Ruth Harvey (Larry Pinkus), Daniel Harvey (Karen Harvey) and William Harvey (Josepha Fath); his grandchildren, Michelle Martin (Ricky Martin), Jay Harvey, Matthew Harvey, Alex Pinkus, Elizabeth Bear (Benjamin Bear), Andrei Pinkus and Camern Pinkus; and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Presbyterian Church at a future date.  Donations in Fred’s memory can be made to St. John’s Presbyterian Church, The Angelman Syndrome Foundation, the Oakland Symphony or a charity of your choice.