SANTA MONICA—Former member of the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees and retired Judge of the Superior Court, David B. Finkel, has died at age 83 in his Santa Monica home. Finkel is reported to have had a prolonged illness, which took his life on July 4.

Finkel was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1932. He obtained his B.A. degree from the University of Chicago in 1951, and his law degree from the University of Southern California in 1959. Finkel was admitted to the California State Bar in 1960. He began his legal work with the progressive civil liberties law firm Margolis and McTerran, and then continued on his own. His work was mainly focused on civil liberties, worker’s rights and academic due process.

In 1964, he went to Mississippi to participate in the Mississippi Freedom Summer, a voyage that put him in great personal danger. In 1965, he went back to Mississippi to take depositions against the state’s all-white congressional delegation.

In 1986, he was elected to the Santa Monica City Council and then in 1990 he was elected to the Santa Monica Municipal Court where he was then elevated to Superior Court Judge. In 2002, he retired from his legal duty as judge.

Finkel was a former SMC Board of Trustees member
Finkel was a former SMC Board of Trustees member.

Finkel was appointed to the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees starting in 2006, and he became a Chairman of the Board in 2010. Before his election to the board of trustees, Finkel had been teaching political science and volunteering part time in the classroom. In January 2014, he resigned from the Board due to ill health. Susan Aminoff, SMC Board Chair, said the Board was sad to see him go.

“As a Trustee, as a teacher, and as a tutor, he has always been devoted to the College and its students and community,” Aminoff said in 2014, “and committed to helping them secure and advance their future.” In his letter to the Board, Finkel had written that he wished to come back when he regained his strength and improved his health.

Finkel’s friends and co-workers have shared their support for him and their sadness of his death. “The loss of David Finkel is a great blow to Santa Monica College and to our community,” said SMC Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Rader. “I will always recall not just his calm and thoughtful demeanor, but his commitment to students, to teaching, to making the world a better place. He was truly a great man.”

He is survived by his wife Bruria Finkel, his brother George Finkel, four children and four grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.