Friday, December 22, 2017

Frank Devello Stringham (1872–1931): Mayor of Berkeley

Garber family plot (photo: Michael Colbruno)
LOT 31

Frank D. Stringham (1872–1931) was Mayor of Berkeley, California from 1923 to 1927. Mayor Stringham was notable for leading the effort to adopt the city manager form of government. Prior to his becoming Mayor, Stringham served as Berkeley's City Attorney and as a Planning Commissioner. It was during his term as Mayor that the 1923 Berkeley Fire occurred. 

Stringham was born on December 9, 1872 in Topeka, Kansas. He attended the University of California where his uncle, W. Irving Stringham was a professor of mathematics. He graduated in 1895. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1897 after receiving his Law Degree from Toland Law College in San Francisco.

After law school, he taught night school in San Francisco for eight years and served as chief clerk of the City of San Francisco and the County Attorney. He served two terms as City Attorney of Berkeley, from 1909-11 and again from 1915-18. He resigned in 1918 to become the enforcement director of the United States Food Administration.

While serving as City Attorney in 1911, he had a kidney removed, which led to health problems for the remainder of his life.  He served as City Attorney under his friend Mayor Beverly Hodghead, who would also become his business partner in their law firm. 

In 1928, Stringham was appointed to serve as a director on the board of the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Stringham married his wife Juliet Garber in 1895. She was the daughter of John Garber, a prominent attorney and member of the Nevada Supreme Court, who owned much of the land upon which the Claremont District was developed. Frank Stringham and his wife donated part of the property to the City of Berkeley for a park which was named John Garber Park.

Stringham was a also a huge champion of the arts and big tennis fan, having served as a referee at a tournament and welcoming tennis legend Helen Willis. 

Stringham died at his Berkeley home of uremic poisoning on December 7, 1931 after having lapsed into a coma. He is buried in the Garber family plot.

Sources: Berkeley Daily Gazette,, San Francisco Call, Oakland Tribune, Mountain View Cemetery archives