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William Alfred Newsom III (February 15, 1934 – December 12, 2018) was an American state appeals court judge, administrator of the Getty family trust, and the father of former San Francisco Mayor, former Lieutenant Governor of California, and Governor of California Gavin Newsom.[2]

William Newsom
Justice William Alfred Newsom III.jpg
William Alfred Newsom III

(1934-02-15)February 15, 1934
DiedDecember 12, 2018(2018-12-12) (aged 84)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of San Francisco
Stanford Law School
OccupationJudge, lawyer
Spouse(s)Tessa Thomas Menzies (div. 1972)[1]
Children2, including Gavin[1]


Life and careerEdit

Newsom was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Christine Anne (née Brennan) and William A. Newsom II. He was known as Bill to all friends and family. A lifelong San Franciscan, Newsom had longstanding political and financial ties. His father ran Pat Brown's campaign for San Francisco district attorney, who then later became governor of California.[3]

Newsom's late sister Barbara was once married to Ron Pelosi, brother-in-law of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. He was also a close friend of Gordon Getty, son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who lived in his house during the 1940s while attending St. Ignatius Catholic prep school in San Francisco.[2]

Judicial careerEdit

Newsom went to University of San Francisco, followed by Stanford Law School and was admitted to the California Bar in 1962. He worked as legal adviser to the Italian division of Getty Oil and then as a tax attorney for the Getty family. Newsom helped to deliver the ransom money for the release of John Paul Getty III.[4]

In 1967, he married Tessa Menzies, and had two children (including Gavin) before divorcing after five years.[3] In 1968, he ran unsuccessfully against State Senator Milton Marks, a popular Republican.[3]

In 1975, Jerry Brown appointed Newsom to the Superior Court bench in Auburn (Placer County) and later to the state Court of Appeal in San Francisco, where he served until his retirement in 1995.[3] In this role he ruled on several prominent cases including the right of privacy for sufferers of HIV, the liability of the San Francisco 49ers for a player's injury and ruled against the prestigious Bohemian Club's ban on employing women.[5] An advocate of rehabilitative justice, Newsom was also part of a panel of judges that ruled that the perpetrators of the 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping would be eligible for parole.[6]

Investment managementEdit

Newsom served as a financial advisor for the Getty family businesses. He directly managed the Gordon P. Getty Family Trust, which is estimated at more than $2 billion.[2] The trust earns about 2 percent a year resulting in approximately $40 million in annual income.[3] He screened potential investments and made recommendations on real estate, stocks, bonds, and other ventures. "I make my living working for Gordon Getty", Newsom said in 2003.[2]

Other interestsEdit

Newsom was a keen environmentalist and served on the boards of both the Sierra Club Foundation and the Environmental Defense Fund.[5] He helped to found the Mountain Lion Preservation Foundation and was also a member of Earth Justice.[6] During his judicial career he had had to curb his advocacy for environmental protection to maintain his professional neutrality.[5] Newsom was also a keen walker and would take Gavin backpacking along the rivers of California.[5] He had a large collection of books and would often read whilst in the bathtub.[6]

Newsom was married to Tessa in 1966 and their son Gavin was born the next year; a daughter followed in 1968. Newsom was divorced shortly afterwards and Tessa died in 2002.[6] In 2004 he administered the oath of office to Gavin upon his appointment as mayor of San Francisco.[5]


Newsom died on December 12, 2018, at his home, in San Francisco, California, less than a month before his son Gavin took office as governor.[7] He was 84 years old.


  1. ^ a b Hough, Marie T.; Woolfolk, Nancy; Grabb, Bernadette (1989). The American Bench. Reginald Bishop Forster & Associates.
  2. ^ a b c d Byrne, Peter (April 2, 2003). "Bringing Up Baby Gavin - Page 1". SF Weekly. p. 1. Archived from the original on July 30, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Byrne, Peter (April 2, 2003). "Bringing Up Baby Gavin - Page 2". SF Weekly. p. 2. Archived from the original on July 30, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  4. ^ "Bringing Up Baby Gavin - April 2, 2003". SF Weekly. 2 April 2003. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e "William Newsom, 84, California Judge and Governor-Elect's Father, Dies". The New York Times. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d December 13, Posted on; Am, Posted on. "William Newsom, father of Gavin Newsom, dies at age 84". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  7. ^ Whiting, Sam. "Judge William Newsom, father of California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 12, 2018.