HAYWARD -- Until a few years ago, on the third Friday of the month during rush hour traffic, Jim Forsyth could be found at a busy downtown corner, holding a banner that read, "No Room for Racism."

Forsyth, who died July Fourth at 85, could be counted on to be there, whatever the weather, said friends and family.

"Jim was so passionate about the things he thought were unfair and unjust," said former county Supervisor Gail Steele. "He would continue to quietly fight and fight and fight and bring those things to people's attention."

Among his many causes were affordable child care, immigration reform, farmworkers' rights, a nuclear freeze, labor rights and single-payer health care, Steele said.

He and his wife, Fran, who died in 1986, started the Hayward Demos Democratic Club, said Ginny DeMartini, who also is active in the Democratic Party.

"Almost anybody active in Hayward politics from the '60s on knew Jim," said Evelyn Cormier, who met Forsyth during a grape boycott.

Former Rep. Pete Stark said Forsyth was "a terrific leader in our community. He provided guidance on the issues that were important to both of us -- peace and justice, protections for seniors and a clean environment."

In a Facebook post, Hayward Councilman Mark Salinas called Forsyth "the conscience and voice for social, economic and political fairness in Hayward."


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Forsyth was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved to California as a young man. His daughter, Susan Forsyth, said he was blacklisted in the 1950s because of his political activities and was often fired because of that. He finally got a job at the now-closed General Motors plant in Fremont, where he worked until retiring in the 1980s.

For many years, Forsyth attended an annual protest at the School of the Americas in Georgia, where foreign soldiers were trained. Accompanying him and others on some of those trips was now-retired minister John Wichman.

"I called him Genuine Jim," Wichman said. "With Jim, it was, 'Wow, this guy is really genuine; he's so committed.' There was a joy to his involvement, and it was contagious."

Forsyth was an avid runner; he competed in a marathon and came in 10th in the challenging Dipsea Race one year, Susan Forsyth said.

Despite his many political activities, Forsyth always made time for his children. He would come home from work each day and fix dinner, though he wasn't a very good cook, his daughter said. On hot afternoons, he would take the kids to Don Castro Recreation Area to go swimming.

"He was a cheapskate, so he would always park way up the street, where you didn't pay, and march us down the road," she said.

"He drove an old Volkswagen bus for years that he would haul everybody around in," Cormier recalled. "And he ran around in clothes that looked like he got them from the Salvation Army. He didn't waste money on fancy stuff."

His daughter added, "It was never about what you could buy, it was what you do for others."

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, Silvia Brandon Perez; sons David and Timothy Forsyth; and six grandchildren. A memorial will be held at a later date.