Sep 01, 2023
BEVERLY BLOCH SAVITT (1926-2023)
Sep 01, 2023
By Judge Verna Adams
The Honorable Beverly Bloch Savitt (May 12,1926-June 24, 2023) was a pioneer in the law and in women’s rights. She was also my law partner, my mentor, and my dear friend.
Judge Savitt was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1946 at the age of 20 and married Jacob (Jack) Savitt the same year.
Beverly and Jack settled in the Washington, D.C. area, where Beverly taught elementary school. They later moved to the Chicago area, where Beverly pursued her life-long interest in Democratic Party politics.
She enrolled in law school and completed her first year at De Paul University in Chicago. After their move to Marin County, Beverly was admitted to Boalt Hall School of Law (now Berkeley Law) and obtained her JD degree in 1967.
She and Ann Diamond formed the first all-female law firm in the country. She was the eighth woman to join the Marin County Bar Association and the second to serve as its President (in 1982). One of her first acts as President was to end the practice of having the monthly membership lunches at the Elks Club, which did not admit women as members at the time.
I first met Bev in 1971. There was an article in the “Women’s Section” of the Chronicle about an all-female law firm in San Rafael. I sent her my resume and she called me for an interview; at the interview she offered me a job and I accepted.
In 1983, Judge Savitt became the first woman to serve on the Marin County Superior Court bench. When she shattered that glass ceiling, she became a role model for me and for countless women and girls.
She generously contributed her time and energy to the education of lawyers and judges, particularly in the area of family law. She has been the founding member of many important organizations whose central purpose is to empower women and ensure that their voices are heard, including California Women Lawyers, Marin County Women Lawyers, the Marin Chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Center for the Family in Transition.
In the 1970s, she was active with the Marin County Chapter of the League of Women Voters, where she analyzed and made recommendations for improving the juvenile court system in Marin. She also served as Vice Chair of the Juvenile Justice Commission.
While serving on the Marin Council for Civic Affairs, Judge Savitt recommended reforming the grand jury selection system and developed a questionnaire for the court which is still in use. She has been instrumental in planning and implementing many changes to improve the quality of justice in Marin County, including initiating a new way to handle family law matters and promoting alternative dispute resolution. In 1983 she was honored with the Women Making History award and in 1995 she was inducted into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame. She retired from the bench in 1995 and served as a private judge for some years thereafter.
Judge Savitt is survived by two children, Charles (Sarah) and Susannah (Thomas), as well as two grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held on Friday, November 3, 2023 at a time and location to be announced.