Leonard M. Salle
Leonard Myron Salle, a co-founder of the Commonweal Institute, died at the age of 69 (May 15, 1936 - May 5, 2006) as the result of complications of coronary bypass surgery. He was survived by his wife of 16 years, Katherine Alden Forrest; sons William Frederick Salle and Stephen Kenneth Salle; stepsons Eric John Finseth and Ian Frederick Finseth; brother Donald Arthur Salle; sister-in-law Adele Salle; and six grandchildren.
Leonard was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan; graduated from Mumford High School; and attended Wayne State University, graduating as a civil engineer. He moved to San Mateo in 1960, and lived in the San Francisco Bay area thereafter. After working in high-level management and executive positions in engineering design and construction firms, his last employer was the County of Santa Clara, where he served in the Environmental Resources Agency, was president of the Santa Clara County Engineers and Architects Association (AFL-CIO), and was the primary organizer of the County Employee Labor Alliance (CELA). He was a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers and a charter member of the Association of Environmental Professionals in California.
In 2001, Leonard and his wife, Katherine Forrest, co-founded the Commonweal Institute, a think tank that seeks to maximize the visibility and the power of progressive ideas and values, promoting fundamental American ideals of community, responsibility, and fairness. The ideals and mission of the Commonweal Institute reflected Leonard’s ideals: commitment to future generations, environmental protection, a balance between business and society as a whole, inclusiveness and fairness, separation of church and state, personal choice and privacy, and a comprehensive and nuanced approach to national security. Leonard served as the President of the Commonweal Institute for the rest of his life.
During his engineering career, Leonard advocated incorporating public input into major public and private engineering projects, developed school busing policies in hillside communities, opposed placement of environmentally risky gas pipelines across farmland, and created one of the first heritage tree ordinances in California.
Leonard is remembered fondly and with deep respect for his sense of justice, ethics and responsibility toward his community and society as a whole, for his irreverent sense of humor, for his gifted skill as a classical pianist, and for his devotion as a husband, brother, father and grandfather.
A memorial service for Leonard Salle was held on May 27, 2006, in the Taube Center on the campus of Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California.
Donations in Leonard’s memory be made to the Leonard M. Salle Memorial Education Fund at the Commonweal Institute, 150 Erica Way, Portola Valley, CA 94028; 650-854-5695. Donations can also be made online.