Allen Trachtenberg, social justice campaigner

Allen Trachtenberg: the driving passion of his life was his 61-year-long marriage to his artist wife Mitzi (Tyrnauer)

Allen Trachtenberg died March 11 at the age of 84 at home surrounded by his wife Mitzi, his children, their spouses and his grandchildren in Berkeley.

Having been diagnosed with cancer Allen underwent treatments that gave him four more years, outliving all expectations, during which he traveled, tutored, campaigned and savored the company of his large family and rich circle of friends.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1927, Allen’s grandparents and parents immigrated there from Poland and Russia. His life was informed by his Socialist, Jewish Orthodox grandfather who instilled values of social justice on which he acted and agitated in the Civil Rights movement and the United Farmworkers’ boycotts.

In 1962, a freedom of speech controversy erupted in Pittsburgh when the couple co-sponsored a Pete Seeger concert. With his children and grandchildren he marched against the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He went to Mexico City to do election protection and to Chiapas to understand the Zapatista movement. At 79 he and Mitzi began volunteering at a model pre-school in Richmond, CA.

At 17, he enlisted in the Navy to fight the Nazis. A graduate in Political Science and Economics of the University of Pittsburgh, the driving passion of his life was his 61-year-long marriage to his artist wife, Mitzi (Tyrnauer). Their good fortune included two children, followed by the news-making birth of their triplets.

Allen worked for Robert Bruce Menswear for 25 years as a salesman and sales manager followed by six years with Campus Sportswear. An excellent golfer, Allen shot a hole-in-one on two separate occasions. Survived and forever loved by his wife Mitzi, his children Larry (Ingrid Henningsson), Amy (Jeffrey Miller), Julie, David (Dr. Elizabeth Trachtenberg), Robert (Catherine Lazio) and grandchildren, Daniel, Nathan Miller, Leo Miller, Emma, Gaetano, Mia, Rose and Samuel, his brother Bernie (Shirley), sister-in-law Charlene and many beloved nieces and nephews. Allen was pre-deceased by his brother Jack.

With much appreciation to the outstanding doctors and nurses at Kaiser Permanente, Dr. David Larson at UCSF, Senior Helpers, and Vitas Hospice. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Richmond College Prep School, PO Box 2814 Richmond, CA 94802 or the ACLU of Northern California.

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  • serkes

    A remarkable life filled with contributions and leaving a wonderful legacy

  • deirdre

    Berkeleyside,you’re doing a significant community service.

  • Leon Mayeri

    I was fortunate to have known Allen. I met him just after he moved to Berkeley several years ago. I also know his son David. Allen was passionate about the values he learned from his parents and grandparents, and it was clear to me that he made a lifelong work of teaching those values to his children. He had a calm, understated way of reaching out to the world, and it showed, rather tremendously, in his love for Mitzi. I often saw him walking around north Berkeley, or while visiting the YMCA. He was very grounded here, and Berkeley was truly a place he could call home. No question that Allen was a great role model and I only hope that others, including myself, might find their way into his walks of life.

  • Pdweiler

    So proud to live in a community with a legacy like this, and so proud that it is carried on. Sympathy to the family and great appreciation.