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Martin Weinberg, 81; Attorney, Major Theater Benefactor

April 24, 2006|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Martin Bernard Weinberg, an attorney who was a major supporter of South Coast Repertory, died of meningitis Wednesday at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, his family said. He was 81.

"Martin Weinberg was an extraordinary champion of the theater, and generously supported new, innovative work that advanced the art of drama," David Emmes, South Coast Repertory's co-founder and producing artistic director, said in a prepared statement.

In 2000, Weinberg and his wife, Elaine, donated $500,000 toward the Costa Mesa theater's expansion and renovation. Over two decades, he also helped underwrite new plays, including Donald Margulies' "Brooklyn Boy" and works by Richard Greenberg and Amy Freed.

"He was a 'Do as I do' kind of guy who led by example," said Paul J. Weinberg, one of his five children, all of whom became lawyers.

Another son, David, was an Orange County Superior Court judge for 10 years.

Dedicated to community health, Weinberg was for many years president of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties. He also helped found Heritage Pointe, an assisted-living facility in Mission Viejo.

Weinberg was born April 2, 1925, in Santa Ana to Eastern European immigrants who started produce stands and restaurants.

After graduating from Santa Ana High School in 1944, he joined the Army and was wounded on D-day in Anzio, Italy.

A graduate of USC, he earned his law degree from UCLA in 1953 and practiced corporate and family law in Santa Ana. When his wife, whom he married in 1952, became a lawyer, she joined the firm, which moved to Irvine.

The Newport Beach resident was known for his work on a 1972 state appellate case known as Marriage of Rosan that made spousal support more flexible, his family said.

In addition to his wife, Weinberg is survived by four sons, a daughter and 10 grandchildren.

A memorial is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pacific View Memorial Park, 3500 Pacific View Drive, Corona del Mar.

Instead of flowers, donations may be made to South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, P.O. Box 2197, Costa Mesa, CA 92628.

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