Biography of William E. Gearhart
San Francisco, CA Biographies





WILLIAM E. GEARHART
Both in the practice and in the teaching of law, William E. Gearhart has engaged with noteworthy success in San Francisco, where his offices are situated in the Bank of America building, 625 Market street. He has likewise acquired a position of repute through other public activities.

Mr. Gearhart was born on a farm in Des Moines county, Iowa, April 19, 1887, and is a son of the late William W. Gearhart and his wife, Amy E. (Woodward) Gearhart. The father was also born in Des Moines county, in the year 1849, descendant of a pioneer German family of Iowa, and during his life was a successful farmer. He died in Burlingame, California, February 11, 1928, while he was visiting his son, William E. Amy E. (Woodward) Gearhart, his wife, survives him, and resides in Iowa City, Iowa. She is a direct descendant of an old Puritan family, members of which settled in Vermont, and one of her ancestors served as a Continental soldier in the Revolutionary war. Others of her lineage were pioneers of Iowa. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. By her marriage to William W. Gearhart, she became the mother of seven sons and one daughter, of whom three sons and the daughter are surviving. They are as follows: Paul S.; William E.; Ralph W.; and Martha, who is the wife of Professor William Burney of the University of Iowa.

William E. Gearhart first attended the country schools near Fairfield, Iowa, then Parsons Academy in Fairfield, after which he entered the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1913. He had determined to make the law his life's work, which decision was largely influenced by his brother, the late George W. Gearhart, who was one of the leading attorneys of Portland, Oregon. Accordingly he began to study law at the University of Iowa, and finished at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, having received his Juris Doctor degree in 1915. Following his graduation, he entered the office of Garret McEnerney, one of the ranking attorneys of San Francisco, where he remained until March 1, 1928, with the exception of a short period when he was identified with the law department of the Associated Oil Company of San Francisco. On March 1, 1928, Mr. Gearhart established his present office. In addition to his successful efforts in the practice of his profession, he has also been greatly interested in the teaching of law. From 1921 until 1930, he held classes in the Golden Gate Law School in San Francisco, his subjects comprising torts, personal property, contracts, private corporations, public corporations, international law, conflicts of law, moot court, legal reason and logic. Since 1929, he has been engaged in a bar quiz course for the students seeking admittance into private law practice. He succeeded the late Norman D. Cook in this office. He was also a member of the committee which sponsored and put into effect the law establishing the present day municipal courts of San Francisco, the cases having formerly been tried before justices of the peace and police judges.

In San Francisco, on the 15th of March, 1915, Mr. Gearhart was married to Miss Flora L. Hillyard, who was born in Oregon, and is a daughter of William and the late Lilian (Lake) Hillyard. The Hillyards were an old Virginia family. Mr. and Mrs. Gearhart are the parents of three children, namely: Margaret Elizabeth, born April 9, 1918; Martha Hillyard, born November 10, 1921; and William E., Jr., born August 1, 1924. All of the children were born in San Francisco. The family residence is now at 1437 Cortez avenue in the city of Burlingame, California.

Mr. Gearhart's support in political affairs has been accorded to the republican party. During the recent Rolph campaign for the governorship, he had charge of the speakers' bureau and made a number of campaign speeches over the radio. He is a member of the First Congregational Church of San Francisco. He is a thirty second degree Mason, belonging to Burlingame Lodge, No. 400, F. & A. M.; and Peninsula bodies of the Scottish Rite, of which he has been orator for five years; also Islam Temple of the Mystic Shrine, and the Sciots. He is a member of the Masonic Club; secretary of the Big Ten Club; past president and secretary of the Inter-Fraternity Conference, Regional Committee of San Francisco; member of the Rio Del Mar Country Club, the Lucerne Country Club, and the Wilbur Welfare Class, of which he was the founder. His wide range of activities in the business and social and political life of San Francisco has been inspired by public spirited motives and a desire to do his share in the up building of the city. He has won great popularity wherever he has become known, and his influence has been felt.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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