Dianne Feinstein, 90, Dies; Oldest Sitting Senator and Fixture of California Politics


In 1956, she married Jack Berman, a prosecutor in the office. They had a daughter, Katherine Anne, and were divorced in 1959. She married Dr. Bertram Feinstein, a neurosurgeon 19 years her senior, in 1962. He died in 1978. In 1980, she married Richard Blum, a wealthy San Francisco investor and philanthropist, who had three daughters by a previous marriage, Heidi, Annette and Eileen.

Mr. Blum, a former chairman of the University of California Board of Regents and a former member of Mr. Obama’s Global Development Council, died in 2022 at 86. Ms. Feinstein is survived by her daughter, her stepdaughters and seven grandchildren.

In 1960, Gov. Edmund G. Brown of California noticed a paper that Ms. Feinstein had written on the administration of justice and named her to a state board that set prison terms and parole conditions for female felons. From 1967 to 1969, she led a watchdog panel on conditions in San Francisco jails.

In her first run for elective office, Ms. Feinstein spent lavishly on television advertising and won a seat on the 11-member Board of Supervisors in 1969. As the highest vote-getter by a wide margin, she automatically became board president. In nearly nine years on the board, she clashed with real estate developers, labor leaders, the pornography industry, feminists, gay groups and other powerful interests, winning a reputation for toughness.

“Dianne is almost unsuited to politics,” her friend Willie Brown, who was then speaker of the California State Assembly and later became mayor of San Francisco, said in 1990, when she ran for governor. “She’s too candid, too direct, too incapable of game playing.” That was a theme, too, in a 1994 biography by Jerry Roberts: “Dianne Feinstein: Never Let Them See You Cry.”


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