Lucille Burman Flato died peacefully Jan. 7 in San Francisco, of complications from a massive stroke.

Born in Oakland, Calif., on Sept. 21, 1922, to Daisy Whitney and Frank Burman, Lucy Flato moved to New York City as a young woman. There she wholeheartedly involved herself in union and community struggles. She returned to San Francisco in the 1950s. Her husband, Charlie Flato, died years earlier.

Lucy was a highly respected activist and proud member of her union, Local 400 of the Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, which later became Local 790. She participated fully in all aspects of the union’s program, including the women’s caucus, international workers’ solidarity activities, fighting for good contracts for city workers and, in recent years, building the retirees’ chapter in San Francisco. For many years she was a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council. She continued to champion the rights of all workers, marching on myriad picket lines and participating in countless demonstrations, until her final illness.

She also volunteered much time to work with Local 2, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, including devoting many hours to the campaigns and boycotts which finally won union contracts at the Parc 55, San Francisco Marriott and Sir Francis Drake hotels.

A contributing writer for several publications, Lucy wrote extensively for the People’s Weekly World under the name of Lucille Whitney, and did much to help build the paper’s circulation. She was known for her ability to convey the spirit as well as the facts of any story she covered.

Lucy Flato joined the Communist Party USA as a young woman, and was active in the party’s work until her death.

Among Lucy’s major commitments were the anti-apartheid struggle and the peace movement. She was an enthusiastic participant in the labor movement’s political action campaigns. Her many concerns also included volunteering to help the poor and homeless and those in substance abuse programs, her love for animals, and her support of the arts, including music. Lucy worshipped at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Methodist Church, an institution renowned for its progressive social activism. She graduated from San Francisco State University, cum laude, in 1995.

Lucy Flato leaves behind many loving friends. Her memorial celebration is being held Jan. 24 at 10 a.m., at the SEIU Local 790 union hall, 1390 Market St., San Francisco. Donations can be made to the Rosenberg Fund for Children, 116 Pleasant St. #3312, Easthampton, MA 01027.

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