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Harry Hellerstein

Harry HellersteinHarry Pat Hellerstein, author and columnist for the Intermountain Jewish News, 1984-1996, passed away July 31, 2015, in San Francisco due to complications from diabetes.

Mr. Hellerstein was born in Denver to Max and Naomi Hellerstein.

Raised in Park Hill, he graduated from East High School in 1957.

Mr. Hellerstein majored in American literature at Brown University and earned his LLD from Harvard Law School.

He joined Denver’s first public defender’s office and developed a reputation  for his astute courtroom skills.

Mr. Hellerstein was married Tsuneko (Suzi) Hellerstein.

In 1976, the couple moved to San Francisco, where Mr. Hellerstein became an assistant federal public defender.

He wrote and published the novel Wired, which is still in print, in 1982.

From 1984-1996, Mr. Hellerstein contributed columns to the IJN that covered a wide range of issues.

Suzi said that her husband loved opera and their season tickets to the opera house. “”He loved to sing, and I think in another life he would have been a cantor.””

After his retirement, the coupled moved to Los Angeles, where Mr. Hellerstein studied screenwriting at USC for two years. They returned to San Francisco.

Mr. Hellerstein was grateful to his Denver friends for their enduring friendship throughout the years.

Nephew Joshua Kurtz remembered a conversation he had with his uncle when Joshua was considering majoring in environmental studies at UCSC.

““I was telling Pat about the plight of the whales,”” he recalls. “”Pat told me it wasn’’t in him to care about the whales. He wasn’’t interested in whales, he was interested in people.

“”He said this bluntly, which is how he said things. He was incapable of small talk . . . But he was very comfortable discussing his cases. He would lean forward, lift his left hand a few inches off the table and open it to the left, as if releasing an idea or a bug that he had kept within his grip.

“”He would pause, open his mouth slightly and begin with, ‘I gotta guy . . .’””

When Joshua worked at the Santa Clara Federal Public Defender’s Office one summer, a young lawyer shared that Mr. Hellerstein “had instilled in him the art of not showing your cards to the prosecutor. What made him a very good attorney was that when he said something, you had no doubt he believed it.”

Mr. Hellerstein is survived by his wife Suzi (Tsuneko) Hellerstein; sister Judy (Joe) Kurtz of Boulder; stepchildren Morgan Guenther and Debbie Hammond; and nephews Joshua and Avi Kurtz.

Contributions may be made in Mr. Hellerstein’’s memory to the charity of choice.

Copyright © 2015 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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