November 16, 2023 (San Diego) -- The Honorable Howard Wayne (former Assemblyman, AD-78) died Thursday, Nov. 2 on his 75th birthday at Scripps Green Hospital after lapsing into a coma, his wife Mary Lundberg announced Saturday.
Wayne served in the state Assembly for three terms, from 1996 to 2002, and thereafter returned to his job as an assistant state attorney general focusing on consumer fraud. After retirement, he continued in public service and was a member of the San Diego County Grand Jury when he took ill.
A “celebration of life” for the late former Assemblyman Howard Wayne (D-San Diego) has been scheduled for 1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, at Elijah’s Restaurant, 7061 Clairemont Mesa, according to his wife Mary Lundberg.
Wayne’s parents, William and Blanche Wayne, were among the early members of Congregation Beth Tefilah, which subsequently merged with Congregation Adat Ami to become the Ohr Shalom Synagogue. William Wayne was a partner with Holocaust survivor Lou Dunst in the Logan Department Store.
Photo: Hon. Howard Wayne (1948-2023)
A lifelong Democrat, Wayne served on the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee. He volunteered in many Democratic campaigns, among them the recently successful judgeship bid by former Chula Vista Mayor Tim Nader.
Along with his wife Mary, he traveled in 2006 to South Africa to help the post-apartheid government establish a new legal system.
While in the Assembly, Wayne served as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and the select Committee on Biotechnology. One of the bills he shepherded into law was to require testing for pollutants caused by runoff along the San Diego County coastline.
Editor's Note: Howard Wayne supported efforts being led by Helen McKenna and also supported by Donna Frye to bring new leash-free dog parks to Pacific Beach and greater San Diego.
In a 1998 interview, Wayne recalled that he was in the slowest reading group in elementary school, but after working with his mother, he excelled at reading and was able to skip a grade. He entered San Diego State University at age 15, eventually serving as president there of the College Young Democrats. Following graduation, he enrolled at the University of San Diego Law School where, he became an editor of its law review. He joined the state attorney general’s office in 1973.
He dated his interest in politics to age 11, when a maternal uncle, Hank Freedman, took him one night to the galleries of the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, at which John F. Kennedy was nominated for President. Young Wayne followed the presidential election closely, watching the televised debate between Kennedy and Richard Nixon. “I knew state by state what electoral votes were: I could make a reasonable guess how they would come out, and one of my happiest days was when JFK won,” he said.
At a meeting of the Kensington College Democratic Club in 1982, he met Lundberg, a former Peace Corps worker in Sierra Leone, who had come to San Diego to head the Peace Corps recruitment office here. After cuts were made in that program by President Ronald Reagan, she enrolled in law school at the University of California Davis, prompting a long-distance romance. They were married in 1988. She went to work in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Theirs was a marriage of a Catholic and a Jew – an intermarriage that Wayne said could not have worked if either of them had strong feelings on religious matters. They had no children, with Wayne suggesting that the time for raising a family had passed them by.
Wayne’s interest in politics led him to actively campaign in San Diego in 1988 for having members of the City Council elected by district rather than city-wide. In 1990, Wayne ran unsuccessfully for a city council seat vacated by Lucy Killea when she succeeded Larry Stirling in the state Senate. He was defeated by Mike Gotch. In 1996, Dede Alpert vacated her Assembly seat in a successful effort to succeed Lucy Killea in the state Senate. That opened a path for Wayne’s victory, in which he defeated Republican Tricia Hunter. He made an unsuccessful run for the San Diego City Council in 2010.
While in the state Assembly, Wayne was named alumnus of the year by Hoover High School. Speaking to the students there , he said, “they had a great public school in San Diego and that I was fighting in the Legislature to make public colleges affordable because I wanted them to have opportunity. I also told them two things. One, when you get that achievement, you have an obligation to make sure that the ladder of opportunity is there for those who are after you.” In a football analogy, he said he also told them, “their teachers were coaches, their parents and grandparents were cheerleaders, and they were on the field and were the captains of their team. It was really on their shoulders to take advantage of this and use the opportunity.”
Wayne’s survivors, in addition to his wife Mary, include an unscathed career in public service, a brother Robert, who is an attorney in Seattle, Washington, and a large extended family.
Co-chairs of the event will be attorney Jim Spievak and businessman Ken Cohen, who were his friends with insight into his non-public persona.
Spievak and Wayne attended the University of San Diego law school together and often met once a month as the Tuesday Club with other budding lawyers, including Susan Finlay, who would go on to serve as an active Superior Court judge between 1980 and 2000.
The group continued to get together regularly even after graduating from law school, said Spievak, who has served as an in-house attorney for several corporations during his career.
Although Wayne was a Democrat and Spievak a “socially liberal, fiscally conservative Republican,” the two friends used to enjoy discussing ballot propositions and social issues. Spievak and his wife Joyce also enjoyed occasional holiday dinners with Howard and Mary.
Cohen and his wife Elena bonded with Howard and Mary over their mutual love for dogs. Howard and Mary have a Great Pyrenees named Ulric, “who is not crazy about people, except for Howard,” Cohen said. “Great Pyrenees are really big, I am sure he is more than 100 pounds, but he avoids people. We tried to meet him a few times but he doesn’t like to stay in the same room with strangers. They also have a German Shepherd named Bella, a lovely, sweet creature.”
At the end of the year Cohen will complete his tenure as a board member of the San Diego Humane Society. He said when his German Shepherd named Shanna died of old age, “it was a very hard loss for us, and Howard and Mary came by and visited and the brought us some lovely mementoes of Shanna. Then we lost another German Shepherd, Kal, earlier this year and their understanding of this was just great. Now we have two younger, healthier dogs.”
Another area of mutual enjoyment was attendance at Cygnet Theatre productions in Old Town San Diego. “They were regulars there and they brought us to a show years ago, and we became fans of the theatre as well,” Cohen said.
Like Spievak, Cohen enjoyed discussing politics with Wayne. “We would consult with Howard to understand as much as we could about upcoming elections, candidates, issues, and judges – all the things that are hard for voters to learn.”
Lundberg said that Wayne’s younger brother, Bob, who is also an attorney, will reflect on Howard’s life at Saturday's gathering, and that other friends will be encouraged to share their stories.
Wayne died Nov. 2 after being hospitalized with a pneumonic infection of his lung and slipping thereafter into a coma. Death came on his 75th birthday.