November 25, 2017 marked the passing of a great man, in every sense of the word. Harry Pregerson, born in East LA on October 13, 1923, was Student Body President of Roosevelt High School, a Marine who received a Purple Heart for his heroism in the WW II Battle of Okinawa, Student Body President of UCLA, a graduate of UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, and a jurist for 50 years, appointed by Lyndon Johnson to the US District Court for the Central District of Los Angeles and elevated by Jimmy Carter in 1979 to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he took an active role until the age of 92.
But Harry Pregerson was far more than his biography; he was a humanitarian and a loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Until the end, he saw every day as an opportunity to live up to his moniker, the “Rescue Machine.” Whether it was the parking lot attendant at his office, the grandson of a neighbor, or his taxi driver, Harry took on others’ problems as if they were his own.
When asked about the law, Judge Pregerson was frank about putting his conscience first. As he explained it, "My conscience is a product of the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights, the Boy Scout Oath, and the Marine Corps Hymn."
Judge Pregerson used the force of his personality, position, and reputation to “always do the right thing,” both on and off the bench, especially when it came to issues affecting immigrants, veterans, women, minorities, and the homeless. He once said that he “looked upon being a judge as a chance to help as many people as I could through the law. And it has given me that opportunity, no doubt about that.”
The landmarks and facilities that bear Harry’s name stand as a testament to his contributions to the city and residents of Los Angeles. They include Judge Harry Pregerson Square, the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange of the I-110 and I-105 freeways, the Pregerson Tower at Villages at Cabrillo, the Harry Pregerson Childcare Center in the Roybal Federal Building, the Pregerson Child Development Center at Westwood Transitional Village, the Pregerson Technical Services Facility at the Hyperion Treatment Plant, and the Pregerson Dining Hall at the Salvation Army's Bell Shelter.
Harry is survived by his beloved wife of 70 years, Bernardine, his children Judge Dean Pregerson and Dr. Katie Rodan, his daughter-in-law, Sharon Pregerson, and son-in-law, Amnon Rodan, grandchildren Bradley Pregerson, Elana Schuldt, and Daniela Rodan, and great-grandchildren Ella and Harlan Schuldt.