EL CERRITO -- Sewall Glinternick, longtime journalist and former manager of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce, died Saturday. He was 85.
"He was a tremendous guy," said longtime friend Britt Johnson. "In a lot of ways, a renaissance guy."
Added his daughter, Sonia Glinternick, "He had a very, very wicked sense of humor. He had a zest for life. He liked to travel; he liked to meet new people. He was very much into local politics. It is a great loss."
Glinternick wrote and edited several newspapers over his career and continued to write when he was with the chamber and even after he retired in 2008.
"Sewall's first love was his journalism," said former El Cerrito city councilwoman Kathleen Perka. "He did it his way, as so many of his age group did, typing it out manually on that manual typewriter. I think he thought better doing it that way. When he was writing his stories for the chamber and other things he would be sitting back there in that old-fashioned journalism style, hammering it out on his typewriter."
Sewall Glinternick was born on Jan. 28, 1927, in Minneapolis, Minn. He served in World War II, first in the cavalry at Fort Riley, then as a writer for Stars and Stripes. After the war, he returned home and entered the University of Minnesota, where he joined the staff of The Minnesota Daily, then the largest college newspaper in the country. Eventually, he served as editor-in-chief.
He also got involved in politics
Glinternick also rubbed elbows with several top writers.
"Father knew Max Shulman and Philip Roth," Michael Glinternick said.
During this period, he also met his wife of 63 years, Riva.
"He was editor of the school paper and we met on a blind date," Riva Glinternick said. "We went to a dinner dance."
Did he impress her from the beginning?
"Well, not from the very beginning," she said with a laugh. "We started dating. We dated for about eight months, and we were married."
The two moved out to California in 1950. Sewall Glinternick became editor and reporter for a small paper in Colton. About four years later, he purchased the Claremont Press and moved to Oakland. He also published the Emeryville City News and the Orinda-Moraga Voice. Later, he worked in the advertising department at the Montclarion and then Family Fair in Richmond.
Throughout his journalism career, Glinternick always held dear the plight of the little guy and wasn't afraid to sound off.
"When they were building the freeways in Oakland and a lot of poor people were being displaced, I remember being in my father's office when Gov. (Edmund 'Pat') Brown Sr. was in the office," Michael Glinternick said. "He was upset about an article. A lot of people were being displaced and their houses had been in their families for generations. Even though they were getting fair market value for their houses, their moving expenses were large, and many of them couldn't buy houses in Oakland."
In 1996, Glinternick became manager of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce. There, he championed local business, something he had no trouble reconciling with his left-of-center political views.
"Sometimes I would give him a hard time about positions that the U.S. chamber was taking and he'd blanch a little," Johnson said. "He'd say, 'That's not us. That's not me.' You could tease him and have a very spirited debate. To some people, Sewall became the voice of more conservative business, but he really didn't. He represented them, but he tried to get them to understand that the government needed to be service-oriented."
Said Sonia Glinternick: "He loved that job. And he loved El Cerrito politics. He loved people. He saw things in a whole different light."
Glinternick continued to write while he was working for the chamber and even after his retirement. He wrote several books he hoped to get published. One was on life as a senior, another was about World War II. He enjoyed baseball and took his children and grandchildren to Oakland A's games as well as an annual trip to spring training in Arizona.
Glinternick is survived by his wife, two children, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.