Jerry Mayer

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Native Washingtonian Jerry Mayer, 90, a longtime labor lawyer, died at his home in Rockville, Md., on Dec. 31. Born in the District on Nov. 16, 1933, Joseph Emanuel Mayer graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1955.

He returned to Washington to attend Georgetown University’s law school. After graduation, he began decades of service to America’s working men and women by serving at the National Labor Relations Board. He was first the Assistant General Counsel of the board, then promoted to its Associate General Counsel. The NLRB protects the rights of employees to join together to improve their wages and working conditions. He later served as counsel for one of the largest building trades unions in America, the half-million member United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. He worked in its international headquarters on Constitution Avenue, adjacent to the U.S. Capitol.

He was a fierce defender of the rights of American workers. Mayer was an avid athlete in several sports, playing baseball and wrestling. After high school, he was scouted by the Senators’ farm team, but chose college instead. He wrestled on the University of Wisconsin team. Later, he played softball, handball and was a regular racquetball player at the Jewish Community Center. A fan of classical music, he collected Asian ceramics and was a devoted reader and collector of books, particularly American authors of the mid-20th century.

He was married to Louise Mayer (born Louise Levinson in Alexandria, Va.), for 58 years until her death in March 2017. They lived in Tenleytown when first married and moved to the Tilden Woods area of Rockville in the 1960s. A decade later, they moved to the nearby Old Farm section of Rockville. The couple had three children: Michael, 63, a theatre and film director in New York City; Kevin, 61, a business executive in Los Angeles; and Patricia, 57, a teacher in the Montgomery County public schools.

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Mayer also is survived by four grandchildren, Morgan, 23, Tinsley, 19, Jackson, 18, and Chase, 15. His older brother, Morton, 92, of Ventura, Calif., survives him as does his cousin Barbara Ribakove, 91, of New York City. There will be a private memorial at a later date. Donations in his memory can be made to two organizations that were meaningful to him: the ACLU (aclu.org) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (splcenter.org).

 

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