Photo of Tom Condit in November of 2009
Tom Condit speaks at the International Socialist reunion in Chicago in November of 2009. Photo courtesy of the Condit Family.

Tom Condit

June 17, 1937 – January 9, 2010

Mr. Condit died Jan. 9 at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland of prostate cancer. He was 72.

John Thomas Condit was born June 17, 1937, in Spokane, Wash. His father was a newspaper journalist and the family moved frequently as he chased jobs around the country. They were often poor, said Mr. Condit’s wife, Marsha Feinland, and Tom Condit picked fruit in the summer.

Mr. Condit began college at UC Santa Barbara but soon found that he couldn’t afford to attend, so he joined the Marines. After being discharged he joined the Young People’s Socialist League in New York. He held a leadership position in the Students for a Democratic Society. He headed west to Berkeley in the mid-1960s and became involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements, among others.

He attended Merritt College, San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley on the GI Bill, Feinland said, “but never received a degree because there was always a protest to organize.”

In the late 1960s, Mr. Condit helped to get the Peace and Freedom Party on the ballot in California. He ran under its banner for state insurance commissioner three times, as well as for Assembly and state Senate. In 1984, he ran for president, but lost in the party’s primary.

Over the years, Mr. Condit worked in an Oakland cannery, drove a cab and typed documents in a law office. But he was always advocating for working people and supported a single-payer health care system for decades. Feinland said he viewed the current health care legislation before Congress as “a gift to the insurance companies.”

Mr. Condit met Feinland, a schoolteacher, at a socialist convention in 1984. They married in 1992.

In 2007, for a reunion of the Young People’s Socialist League, Mr. Condit wrote a memoir that was recently reposted by Solidarity, a socialist organization.

“In the past 50 years, I have seen the socialist movement decline on a world-wide scale,” Mr. Condit wrote. “At the same time, the need for one has never been greater. The capitalist class is greedier, more violent and more destructive of both humanity and the earth than ever before, and shows no sign of improving despite all the ‘greenwashing’ corporations are rushing to give themselves.

“We need more than ever to build a movement capable of putting an end to capitalism and building a new society based on cooperation, democracy and sharing,” he wrote.

He is survived by his wife, Feinland of Berkeley; his stepson, Ian Grimes of San Francisco; his brother, Colin Condit of Vancouver, British Columbia; his sister, Constance Condit, and her partner, Kathleen McCall of Claremont (Los Angeles County); and his stepmother, Geraldine Irby of Surrey, British Columbia.

[Note: this article was originally published online at SFGate.com]