Friends Remember Mel Shapiro

by on December 20, 2018 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

All photos by Kathy Blavatt

By Kathleen Blavatt

About 50 friends of Mel Shapiro’s gathered last Saturday, December 15, to remember him in a wonderful and memorable tribute as he had passed in late November. A handful of OBceans were present at this memorable gathering. There were incredible speakers, tasty food from Hugo’s and it was good to know we still have still a good number of serious, but still fun activists, in town.

The memorial was held at Christ United Presbyterian Church at 3025 Fir Street, San Diego. The church was a perfect choice for Mel’s memorial because Rev. Smith – a famous civic leader and activist- had had his services there, among other known Reverends who were also civic activists.

Mel’s memorial opened with talented 13-year-old musician Claire Roberts playing piano, while John McNab, a longtime public land activist, was the host. And John Stump and Jay Levine gave the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Donna Frye, former Council Member, told how important Mel was in helping her put transparency back into the government and political processes. Michael Aguirre, former City Attorney, jokingly spoke about how much Mel, and he, were both not-so liked by certain factions.

John McNab read a message by writer Don Bauder about his appreciation of Mel, and how he was an important source of information for his articles. Tom Mullaney, a planning Activist, told how important Mel was as a watchdog in his fact-finding and holding politicians accountable. Scott Andrews, Public Land Activist told how Mel held the government accountable and all the good Mel did.Pat Flannery, who used to run the Blog of San Diego, spoke of how Mel helped keep local government in line. John Hartley, Uptown Democratic Club, told about Mel forming the Democratic Club, knowing how important it was to bring people into the process.

I’m an Ocean Beach Activist and historian and I spoke about Mel the person, how he loved a good joke, and appreciated his activist friends who were his extended family.

A video clip of Mel at a public forum followed. His deeds were truly appreciated and applauded by the many attendees at his memorial. His activism will always be embedded in San Diego’s history.

Here’s a few things people mentioned about Mel:

Mel was the hero for the underdogs, the homeless, and the people that had been beaten down by the system.

Mel was the force behind installing the City’s Ethics Commission, more transparency that included having public records available to the public, and making sure the city followed the “Brown Act” at public meetings. He pursued the “Sunshine Act” with former Council Member Donna Frye.

Mel would sue San Diego government when they breached the rules. He won in court all but one time!

Mel battled corruption, public land and park giveaways, development abuses, and convention center and stadiums boondoggles.

He, with several others, started the Uptown Democratic Club.

He put his energy into protecting the public.

Mel lived a simple life, no frills life. He never married or had kids. But he left a legacy for the future children of San Diego.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Burns December 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm

I worked for Mel (and a crew of Gray Panthers) through my employment with V.I.S.T.A. which had a contract with C.H.A.I.N. He’s one of effective activists with scandal and no enemies amongst his natural friends. May more activists follow his example and longevity. Thank you for remembering this wonderful person.


Nancy Finneran Witt February 21, 2019 at 5:06 pm

Coming to San Diego way back when in ’71, was happy to get to know Mel those early years, and he was a go-getter for our city. RIP, my friend.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: