Placer County Judge William Newsom, Dutch Flat resident with roots in Placer, Nevada counties - Obituary from Auburn Journal newspaper
Placer County judge in the 1970s, a legal counsel to the Getty family and the father of California's governor-elect, Dutch Flat resident William Newsom is dead at 84.
Newsom, whose family roots include gold mines in Nevada County and leasing the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics site, was a resident of Dutch Flat from the late 1970s.
He was appointed to the Placer County Superior Court bench in 1975 by Gov. Jerry Brown, having served as co-chairman of his Placer County election campaign the year before.
Newsom and Brown's links stretched back to San Francisco in the 1940s, when Newsom's father, also named William, ran Jerry Brown's father's first two district attorney campaigns in San Francisco. Pat Brown would go on to become governor, with the elder William Newsom serving as treasurer of the California Democratic Party Central committee.
After the Winter Olympics in Placer County, the senior Newsom secured the lease on the site and the family operated the Squaw Valley Improvement Corp. until 1974. At the same time, Bill Newsom Jr. established a law practice in Tahoe City in 1968.
Serving as attorney for the two sons of oil billionaire J. Paul Getty, he successfully sued on their behalf for a share of $385 million they felt they were entitled to.
And Newsom was the trusted advisor the Gettys turned to when J. Paul Getty III was kidnapped in 1973 in Rome. Fluent in Italian, Newsom delivered the ransom in person to Italy.
Newsom was 41 when he was appointed Placer County judge. His son, Gavin was 7 and lived in San Francisco with his mother and sister. In 2016, Gavin Newsom would name a son "Dutch" in honor of the community he recalled spending summers at, enjoying the mountain and swimming at the community pool.
The Newsom home in Dutch Flat wasn't just a home away from home for the future governor, it was also played host in 2005 to actor Ed Asner, who would return to the area the next year to film a Christmas movie.
Newsom strongly supported and generously donated to the community of 300 full-time residents’ Golden Drift Historical Society, North Fork American River Alliance and Dutch Flat Community Center.
“He was a supporter of anybody who needed help,” Dutch Flat Community newspaper editor Marybeth Blackinton said.
Dutch Flat resident Jim Ricker, of the North Fork American River Alliance, said that while Newsom was considered a V.I.P., he was a humble caring person - who had his own table always reserved at the local Monte Vista Inn.
“That was Bill’s,” Ricker said. “But he wasn’t just a V.I.P, he was a wonderful guy.”
In ill health and under hospice care, Newsom died Wednesday in San Francisco, where he had an apartment. He is to be buried at the family plot in the Historic Dutch Flat Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Dutch Flat Community Center, P.O. Box 14, Dutch Flat.
During the three years with the Superior Court in Placer County, Newsom would lock horns with Squaw Valley Ski Corp. founder Alex Cushing and win a battle over whether he was unbiased in cases concerning the resort. Cushing maintained in court documents that Newsom was as an "avowed and practicing ecologist."
Newsom would also order the Placer County Board of Supervisors to upgrade its substandard jail or face having it shut down.
In 1978, Newsom would be elevated to the 1st District court of Appeal in San Francisco. But he would never leave the county and an area that his father had first found riches in mining for gold in the first half of the 20th century.