Services will be held Thursday for Robert Feldman, the longtime executive secretary of the San Francisco Board of Appeals, who died Sunday of a heart infection at the age of 68.
Mr. Feldman served in the crucial city post for 22 years and was still acting in that capacity when he became ill several days before he died. In his position, he was often relied on by others for his prodigious knowledge of city planning laws.
Before he took his job with the Board of Appeals - a quasi-judicial body that hears appeals of permit and licensing decisions by several city agencies - Mr. Feldman supervised the Planning Department's information section where staffers had to have an in-depth knowledge of the planning code.
"Bob had a very good ability to memorize and store knowledge, and with something as esoteric as the planning code, he was able to do that - something most people couldn't have done," said Paul Rosetter, his longtime friend and co-worker in the department.
Dean Macris, the city's planning director, described Mr. Feldman as "a sweet, adorable man. He was a gentleman who worked many years on the zoning counter and was gracious with the public and a first-rate public servant. I don't know of anyone who didn't like Bob Feldman."
Randall Knox, president of the Board of Appeals, said that Mr. Feldman's "goal was that everyone who came in front of the Board of Appeals got a level playing field."
Mr. Feldman was born in Passaic, N.J., and grew up in the town of Nutley where his father had a dental practice. Mr. Feldman attended public schools and got his undergraduate college education at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He obtained a law degree from Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey.
In 1971, shortly after graduating from Rutgers, Mr. Feldman moved to California, passed the California State Bar and eventually began his work at the Planning Department, family members said.
In addition to his work for the city, family members said, Mr. Feldman served as a long-time volunteer with both Jewish Vocational Services and the Rose Resnick Lighthouse for the Blind; he also was past lodge president of B'nai B'rith.
His brother, Bill, said that although he admired his brother for his professional accomplishments, "what made him special was that he was a wonderful, warm, outstanding human being."
Mr. Feldman, who resided in San Francisco, became ill only a few days before he died when he developed a bacterial heart infection. In 2000, he had had a brain hemorrhage but recovered after several months and returned to work. He died at California Pacific Medical Center.
In addition to his brother, Bill, of Wayne, N.J., Mr. Feldman is survived by Linda Feldman, his wife of 23 years. The family asked that Mr. Feldman's friends make donations to the charities of their choice in lieu of flowers.