David Andrew Workman


March 30, 1930 - March 23, 2020 Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David A. Workman died at his home in Los Angeles on March 23, one week short of his 90th birthday. He was the third of four sons born to Thomas Edgar Workman and Margaret Kilgariff Workman. David was predeceased by his parents, by his oldest brother, Henry K. Workman (Marie), who died just one week before David on March 16, and his brothers Thomas E. Workman, Jr. (Mary Lou) and Richard D. Workman. David was born in Los Angeles into a pioneer Los Angeles family. His great-grandfather and namesake, David Workman, was an English immigrant who spent 25 years as a saddler and trader in frontier Missouri before leading his family over the California Trail in 1854 to join his brother, William Workman, at the Rancho La Puente (which comprised much of what now includes the cities of Industry, La Puente, West Covina, Covina, Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights). As part of its efforts to secularize the Spanish missions, Mexico had granted the rancho to William and his partner John Rowland, who had led a party of settlers in 1841 over the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to the San Gabriel Mission -- the first overland party of settlers into California. David's pioneering roots also included his great-grandfather Andrew Boyle, an Irishman who fought in the Texas Revolution and by the 1850's had settled as a vintner on the bluffs (now Boyle Heights) above the flats east of the Los Angeles River where he grew his grapes; he served on the Common Council (predecessor to the City Council) in the 1860's.David grew up around a family dinner table where the discussion of politics and current affairs was de rigueur. He was steeped in his family history. His grandfather, William H. Workman, was a mayor of Los Angeles in the late-1880's and, as the city treasurer from 1901-1907, was responsible for the financing of the City's purchase of its water supply from private interests and the initial stages of the Owens River aqueduct project. Other family members were also politically and civically active in Los Angeles in the later-part of the 19th and early 20th centuries: David's great-uncle Elijah Workman served on the Common Council throughout the 1860's and 70's; his uncle Boyle Workman was the president of the City Council in the 1920's; and his aunt Mary Julia Workman founded the Brownson Settlement House in the 1920's to assist the increasing number of needy families in the growing city and continued to be prominently active in Los Angeles political and social affairs until the 1950's. David's mother Margaret was a delegate to the 1932 Democratic convention which nominated FDR. Local history, politics and public service were the lifeblood of the family and greatly influenced David throughout his life. David was a product of Los Angeles public schools. He attended Wilton Place Grammar School (1942), John Burroughs Junior High School (1945) and Los Angeles High School (1948). He was a proud graduate of Stanford University, where he received a BA with distinction in history in 1952 (Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Stanford Law School (University Law Scholarship) in 1955. Following law school David chose public service by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps where, following officer training school in Quantico, Virginia, he was commissioned as a lieutenant and spent the next three years in active duty prosecuting and defending general and special courts martial. David so loved the Marines that he remained active in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1985, rising to the rank of colonel. His Marine experience was formative and for the rest of his life remained an important aspect of his identity. Following active duty David entered private law practice in Los Angeles, first as an associate with the old-line firm of Lawler, Felix and Hall, and then in corporate law positions with Northrop and later Litton Industries. He served as a member of the Republican Central Committee from 1974-80 (the first in his family to register Republican). From 1966-73 David served by appointment of Governors Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan on the Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park Commission which was responsible for restoring, and developing as a historic park, the land in and around the plaza at the center of the early Pueblo. David worked tirelessly in that post to fight efforts to commercialize the Plaza and distort its history. Unfulfilled in private practice, David became a Deputy City Attorney in 1976 and spent the next five years trying cases for the City. Then, in 1980, he was elected to a Municipal Court judgeship and spent the rest of his career (over 25 years) on the bench, becoming a Superior Court judge in 1982. David loved being a judge. It fulfilled his lifelong yearning for public service. His ethics were beyond reproach. His courtroom was formal and well organized. He was a stickler for the observance of court rules and insisted that attorneys be prepared. He believed that nothing assured the efficient flow of cases and access to justice more than a firm trial date and a judge's reputation for regularly trying cases. And that he did. David's demeanor off the bench, in the company of his family and friends, was different. The fastidious and curmudgeonly tendencies that caused some attorneys to chafe were, to the friends and family he loved, endearing. To those who knew him, especially his family, perhaps the most treasured of all of David's qualities was his great sense of humor. He could find humor in most things -- his eyes would twinkle, his head would tilt, a sly grin would appear and his hand would form a fist and cover his mouth just before he would burst into a full-bodied laugh. It was a joy to see and irresistibly infectious. In addition to his love for his native Los Angeles, David felt a special bond with the Monterey Peninsula. He spent his summers as a boy in Pacific Grove where his mother's family had vacationed for many years to escape the summer heat of their Sacramento home. It was there he learned to swim, a sport David avidly pursued until he was no longer physically able to pull himself out of the pool, either in the brisk waters of Monterey Bay or at the Jonathan Club, where he was a member for 60 years. David bought a second home in Pacific Grove many years ago and it became his retreat. He could be seen well into his eighties riding his bike through his beloved PG. David was a lifelong bachelor who zealously guarded his independence and privacy. To describe him as frugal, which his sisters-in-law did frequently, would be an understatement. But while many saw only a rigid countenance and idiosyncrasies, you didn't have to spend much time with David to see that there was so much more to him. He was a courtly gentleman, sophisticated and highly intelligent, with encyclopedic knowledge of American and European history. David's interests ran wide and deep: architecture; antiques; art (paintings of ships and California plein air landscapes); gardening; cooking; travel; movies; and, above all, classical music and opera -- he once was seen standing with tears streaming down his cheeks as he belted out the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah at a Disney Concert Hall sing-along. He was a real aesthete. And he was passionate about all things historical, especially family history. With a cousin he made several trips to northern England to trace the roots of his Workman ancestors. David grew up in a devoutly Catholic home and practiced his faith his entire life. Like his brothers, his faith was unwavering, yet always humble. Never did he give the impression that he was more righteous than anyone else. Since 1967 David was a proud and active member of Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon parish on Burton Way near La Cienaga. Why he went to a Maronite Catholic church instead of a Roman Catholic church closer to his home, no one could ever understand. Yet that was David -- a maverick who did things his own way.David is survived by his seven adoring nieces and nephews, William H. Workman (Kerin), Paul C. Workman (Kelley), Henry K. Workman, Jr. (Frances), Anne Marie Workman, Sarah E. Workman, Mary Regina Hatton (nee Workman) (John) and Thomas J. Workman (Sarah); by his great-nieces and nephews; and by his extended Workman and Kilgariff cousins. David treasured our family and we treasured him. We shall miss him dearly for now, but in the faith and hope that, as his mother Margaret always added to the end of grace at family meals (a tradition that continues), we shall "all be together in Paradise." Semper Fi.David will be interred following a private burial at the Workman family plot in Calvary Cemetery. A memorial Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon and a reception in his honor will be held in the future. In lieu of flowers, gifts should be made to KUSC, the classical music radio station, or to the .

Source: Los Angeles Times

Published on: 05-04-2020