June 16, 1930 – May 1, 2018
Zad Leavy died peacefully at home on May 1, 2018 at the age of 87. Zad leaves behind his wife of 57 years, Laela Leavy; children Michael and Julianne Leavy and their spouses, Susan Galvin and Charles Knight; and grandchildren Elise Leavy, Helen Galvin, Charles (Eddie) Knight, Ryan Knight, and Estella Leavy. Zad was born to Ethyl and Zadoc Leavy in Santa Monica, California, on June 16, 1930, and grew up in Venice, California. He served as an Officer in the Navy on a minesweeper during the Korean Conflict. In 1960, Zad married Laela, and in 1962 they moved to Manhattan Beach, California. Zad studied law at UCLA and USC, served as Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles from 1959-61, was a partner in a law practice in Los Angeles until he left the area in 1974, and later established a law practice in Carmel. Zad loved his work, and did not retire from the practice of law until the age of 80. During his time as Deputy District Attorney, Zad took a leave of absence to cover the trial of Adolf Eichmann, an infamous Nazi war criminal captured and extradited to Israel for trial. Eichmann was found guilty and hanged, the only person ever executed in Israel to date. Zad covered the trial for the Hearst Wire Service as well as the Los Angeles Examiner, American Bar Journal, California Bar Journal, and a number of other journals. The wide media coverage of the trial is credited as having dramatically increased global public awareness about the details of the Holocaust. In 1969 and 1971, Zad represented deans of medical schools and other physicians in two cases before the California Supreme Court which established “choice” for California women, and set the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. In 1974 Zad and Laela moved their family to Big Sur, having fallen in love with the area after a number of family camping trips. They bought a lot in the hills above the newly opened Ventana Resort, and built a house over a period of five years (it was a family effort, driven by Zad). Once settled in Big Sur, Zad got involved in the land conservation movement, joining the Central Coast Regional California Coastal Commission as a Commissioner from 1977-81 and participating in the development of the Coastal Plan that still controls development on the Central California Coast to this day. In 1978 Zad worked with a few other individuals to form the Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT), and served as General Counsel for many years and as Executive Director from 1997-2000. Zad was instrumental in crafting complex and innovative transactions for BSLT to purchase and conserve privately held land. The formation of the Big Sur Land Trust and its legacy of preservation is one of Zad’s proudest achievements. In 1981 Zad was elected to the board of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, and served on that board for 21 years, serving five terms as President over that period. One of Zad’s greatest legacies is having been a role model and inspiration to his children and others. In 2004 Zad helped his children Julianne and Michael form Harmony at Home, a Monterey County non-profit that provides programs for children in need. He worked with his son-in-law Charles to provide legal support, provided the initial financial backing, and has been a strong overall supporter of the now prominent organization since its inception. On a personal note, Zad was passionate about folk dancing, which he pursued into his early 80s, and swimming, which he pursued until the end of his life. Being around Zad, you could not help but be inspired by his strong work ethic, his commitment to community service, and the strong sense of pride in everything he did. He had a calm, kind demeanor, a warm smile, and a “twinkle in his eye.” Zad will be sorely missed. Zad’s family is planning a Celebration of Life sometime in the next few months, time and venue to be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please leave a donation to either Big Sur Land Trust, Harmony at Home, or Congregation Beth Israel Carmel.
- Celebration of Zad's Life Sunday, August 5, 2018
June 11, 2018
A colleague in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, a partner in our private law practice, a co-advocate for human rights with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and a good friend, companion and associate for more than fifty (50) years. Zad will always remain in my mind, memory and heart. I hope that the wonderful memories that Laela and their children have of Zad will help them through this very difficult time.
June 8, 2018
I am so sadden to hear the news of Zad's passing. I had known him for several years through his folk dance teaching. Zad was a wonderful man and well liked by whomever had known him. I hope you will find some comfort in your many special memories of the happy years you shared.
May 19, 2018
A fine man; a noble soul, much appreciated and valued in this community.