New Leaders Council marks the passing of a great leader

New Leaders Council marks the passing of a great leader

It is with great sadness that New Leaders Council marks the passing of a great leader, NLC board member Murray Galinson. Our condolences go out to his family. He will be sorely missed by so many.


Murray Galinson, an influential force in San Diego’s business, political and philanthropic worlds for decades, died Thursday. He was 75.

A representative for the Galinson family confirmed Thursday night he had died unexpectedly but declined further comment.

Friends said Galinson recently had surgery to remove a tumor between his brain and spinal cord but didn’t know if that was a contributing factor in his death.

A lawyer by training, Galinson grew into a political power broker, eventually becoming deputy director of Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign in 1984.

After moving to San Diego in 1970 to teach law, Galinson became a prominent political figure, once dubbed San Diego’s “Democratic kingmaker” by a local news weekly.

He had said his commitment to causes, volunteer work and equality had been nurtured by his parents, who led by example. After taking over the fledgling San Diego National Bank, Galinson filled three board positions with women, the bank’s first female trustees.

Galinson has championed philanthropic projects in education, inner-city development and social and community services both here and in Israel. When Galinson headed the local Congregation Beth Israel, he started the tradition of having its members take over homeless food service duties at Father Joe’s Villages on Sundays so Catholic staff members could attend church.

In an interview with U-T San Diego in October of last year, Galinson was asked how he feels he has made a difference.

“I don’t know if I have,” he said. “I tried, when I was teaching, to let students know the importance of community involvement. When I headed the bank, I made sure the bank and its employees were very involved in the community. In politics, I tried to get the politician elected on the bases of what they would do and how they would do it.”

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said of Galinson: “A wonderful man who committed his talents and resources to making life better for the citizens of the city he loved. We also loved him and will greatly miss him.”

Galinson was a prominent and loyal Democrat, though he supported Republicans Jerry Sanders and Pete Wilson when they ran for mayor of San Diego.

Real estate mogul Malin Burnham, who is essentially Galinson’s Republican counterpart in political circles, said the two got along famously because once the political dust settled Galinson would always work across party lines for the greater good.

“Murray was a very unique person,” Burnham said. “He was a calming influence in a meeting, especially in a contentious meeting. … Nobody could not like him if they knew him, maybe that’s his legacy.”

Democratic civic booster George Mitrovich called Galinson “one of San Diego’s greatest citizens.”

“You may not have known him, but you should know we have lost one of our finest — ever,” Mitrovich said in a Facebook post. “Those of us who have played leadership roles in San Diego have earned the enmity of more than a few, but not Murray. I think it is altogether plausible to say that no San Diegan was more universally loved or respected than Murray Galinson.”

Born May 8, 1937, Galinson’s first foray into politics came in his hometown of St. Louis Park, Minn., where the Republican mayor refused Galinson’s plea to serve on a community advisory board because he was a Democrat. So Galinson ran for City Council, won and then helped a Democratic council majority strip the mayor of his appointment powers.

Galinson received a bachelor’s and law degree from the University of Minnesota before a legal career that included a stint as assistant U.S. attorney in Minneapolis. He taught law at Cal Western School of Law and later served as a board trustee for the institution. He later served as CEO and president of San Diego National Bank for 25 years and then was a founding partner of La Jolla MJ Management Co.

He also served as chairman of the California State University Board of Trustees.

His philanthropic and civic pursuits are almost too many to count. He has served in leadership roles with groups such as the Galinson Family Foundation, Price Legacy Corp., Price Charities, the Leichtag Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and San Diego Grantmakers, among others.

“He was a one of a kind: a great leader, a great humanitarian and a great statesman,” said Steve Smith, the former dean of Cal Western who is now a professor there. “It’s just a huge loss to San Diego.”

Galinson is survived by his wife, Elaine, three children and eight grandchildren. No details were immediately available on memorial or funeral arrangements.

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