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Obituary: Simeon Golar, former N.Y. judge, father of Boston mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie

8/14/2013, 11:42 a.m.

Simeon Golar, a former New York Family Court judge, and one-time chairman of both New York City’s Commission on Human Rights and the New York City Housing Authority, has died, his family says. He was 84.

Golar died Sunday of natural causes at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y., according to the campaign of his daughter, Boston mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie.

Judge Golar was born in 1928 during the Great Depression, in segregated South Carolina. He was born to Lottie Jackson, a single teenage mother, and then adopted by the Golar family with whom he migrated to New York City when he was a small boy.

He attended public schools, and later the City College of New York. He worked his way through New York University School of Law as a subway toll clerk; and at NYU he was a classmate of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins.

In 1956, he married Pauline Wellington, a young teacher and daughter of Barbadian immigrants, and they settled in Brooklyn. They had two children, Charlotte and her sister, Katherine. Though Simeon and Pauline divorced in 1965, they maintained a close relationship with each other and with their two daughters, family members said.

In 1966, Golar ran unsuccessfully for the office of Attorney General of New York on the Liberal Party ticket, running at a time when it was extremely uncommon for African American candidates to campaign for statewide office.

He subsequently became the chairman of New York City’s Commission on Human Rights, and later, chairman of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in the administration of New York City Mayor John Lindsay; he was reportedly the first NYCHA chairman to have lived in public housing.

Golar later served as a judge in the New York State Family Court system; he had a stint as a television talk show host on WNBC’s “Open Circuit,” and worked for several years as a housing developer, a law professor and as an attorney in private practice.

He served on many boards, including the Supreme Court Justices’ Association of NYC, the Community Service Society of NY, the New York Urban League, and NYU Law School. He was also a life member of the NAACP.

“He had great courage and a brilliant mind,” said Charlotte Golar Richie. “He overcame great odds to succeed in public life, rising from humble beginnings in Chester, South Carolina, to become a dynamic leader and public servant. I will miss him very much.”

In keeping with one of her father’s favorite quotes, “A life well-lived is a life of service,” Golar Richie followed in her father’s public service footsteps. She was a Peace Corps volunteer and later became a state representative from 1994 to 1999. She later worked as Boston’s Chief of Housing and Director of Neighborhood Development and as a senior aide to Governor Deval Patrick. She recently took time off from her latest job as senior vice president for YouthBuild USA to campaign for Boston mayor.

Funeral services will be held in New York this week.