Honoring James L. Wanvig, PLF's Founding Trustee
As a fly fisherman and hiker, lawyer Jim Wanvig treasured the California outdoors. He used the Sierra rivers, lakes and hiking trails with greatest respect and considered himself a conservationist. Professionally, he was a partner at the San Francisco law firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro.* He believed in the founders intent regarding the U.S. Constitution and in private property ownership as a basic foundation of our liberty.
In the early 1970s, Jim recognized that rapidly proliferating environmental laws were creating a momentum for government expansion at all levels. He saw that the huge and fast-growing new body of environmental law-in spite of its good intentions-gave frightening power to opponents of property rights who could now leapfrog their agendas through the courts. Business and private citizens, Jim realized, would need tremendous help-their own public interest law firm to give them voice, to limit the effectiveness of the environmentalists and protect private property rights.
Jim conceived the idea of a legal foundation devoted to protecting constitutional rights and private property ownership. He sold the idea to California's major law firms, and a business friend, J. S. Fluor of Fluor Corp., brought in leading corporations. In 1973, with founding support and operating structure in place, Pacific Legal Foundation was born-the first legal organization of its kind in the nation.
Earlier, in 1959, Jim's leadership, gentle strength, and knowledge of property law as applied to natural resources caught the attention of another kind of property owner. The new state of Alaska hired him to write its body of oil and gas regulations and draft the lease forms that launched that state's most important industry. He was a respected figure in the industry's political and government matters in the western states for many years.
Jim often marveled that as a boy, he lived in rental apartments. Yet he developed a deep reverence for private property rights from working with clients who were using their property to provide jobs and products for the nation's economic progress.
Born in Minneapolis, Jim graduated from the University of Minnesota and its law school, where he twice edited the law review. He attended Harvard Business School under the U.S. Navy Supply Corps officer training program and was commissioned with the Harvard MOC 3 class, serving in the Pacific during World War II.
Jim came to California when recruited by the late esteemed Dean William Prosser to teach at Boalt Hall at the University of California, Berkeley. After two years, he was invited to join the prominent San Francisco firm where he spent the next 40 years.
Jim was so modest that few friends or colleagues knew of his achievements. (When he helped put the first PLF board in place, Jim insisted another take the top slot, and he became vice chairman.) He was known for his warmhearted smile, his joyous enthusiasm for life and his sincere kindness to all people whether store clerks or CEOs. He possessed enduring optimism, profundity, and a deep and enthusiastic grasp of world history.
Jim Wanvig passed away five years ago, but his foresight, devotion to our Constitution, and legacy lives on at Pacific Legal Foundation, now regarded by hundreds of citizens as their sole savior against government disregard and destruction of private property rights and our constitution. His widow, Barbara Williams Wanvig of San Francisco, has arranged that a portion of her estate pass to PLF. "Before I knew Jim, I knew PLF's fine reputation through my work in government relations at Chevron," she said. "But it wasn't until we were married that he happened to mention his role in the founding of PLF. It was so typical of Jim not to speak of his accomplishments. Support for Jim's legacy and PLF is even more critical with a new Congress and administration enlarging government's size and power over the private sector at a dizzying pace. Many famous Americans have noted that liberty must be defended every day. We are blessed that my beloved Jim helped create PLF to lead in this defense, but we citizens must keep PLF strong with our financial support."
(*now Pillsbury Winthrop)
You also may want to make it easy and convenient to have a bequest included in your will. The language below shows how a bequest can very easily be included in your will.
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Example bequest language - Please feel free to change the numbers or percentages as you desire.
1. Bequest of cash
"I bequeath the sum of $10,000 to Pacific Legal Foundation of Sacramento, CA."
2. Bequest of a percent of the estate
"I devise and bequeath 20% of the remainder and residue of property owned at my death, whether real or personal, and wherever located to Pacific Legal Foundation, Sacramento, CA."
3. Contingent Bequest
"If my brother John Doe survives me, I devise and bequeath 20% of the remainder and residue of property owned at my death, whether real or personal, and wherever located to John Doe. If John Doe does not survive me, then I devise and bequeath 20% of my residuary estate, whether real or personal property and wherever located to Pacific Legal Foundation, Sacramento, CA."
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