Perry Litchfield: Marin Attorney and Developer Dies at 66

Perry Litchfield, son of the late hotelier Whitey Litchfield, seen in front of the Motel 6 on Monday, September 13, 2010. (IJ photo/Robert Tong)
Perry Litchfield, son of the late hotelier Whitey Litchfield, seen in front of the Motel 6 on Monday, September 13, 2010. (IJ photo/Robert Tong)


Perry Litchfield, a Marin County philanthropist, attorney and developer of a local rehabilitation center, has died at age 66.

Mr. Litchfield, who was a San Rafael resident, died on June 11 from complications of a stroke, said his son Charles Litchfield.

“He was larger than life,” Charles Litchfield said. “He was a character through and through and meant a lot to a lot of people, probably more than he ever knew.”

Mr. Litchfield, the son of Marin developer Irving Litchfield, was born in 1956. Mr. Litchfield’s father was well-known in San Rafael for the Bermuda Palms resort and the Litchfield neon sign along Highway 101.

Mr. Litchfield received his law degree from the University of San Francisco. He began his legal practice in Novato, California, representing the owners of a demolished home, persuading appellate courts to approve insurance coverage due to loss from a terrible natural disaster.

Mr. Litchfield represented the family of a fishing vessel crew member who was crushed by a tanker off the coast of Marin in 1986. The lawsuit resulted in stricter requirements for maritime vessels.

Stu Diamond, an attorney in San Rafael, described Mr. Litchfield as smart, courageous and staunch.

“He was a very colorful guy, kind of an eccentric. He was a guy who was pretty much all business,” Diamond said.

Diamond recalled that Mr. Litchfield returned from a trip to Italy with a surprise gift: a leather bag inlaid with Diamond’s initials.

“He could be very generous of spirit,” Diamond said. “I miss him.”

Mr. Litchfield famously invested $50,000 in the repair of the renowned lit sign that bears his name on Francisco Boulevard East.

His father had installed the sign for the Bermuda Palms in 1949, and it, like the famed property, had been degrading for years.

The sign is located on the roof of the former resort, which Mr. Litchfield also oversaw the renovation and reconstruction of in order to add shop space.

Mr. Litchfield pursued real estate and contractor’s licenses in the latter years of his employment. He was in charge of converting parts of the Bermuda Palms complex into retail areas.

Mr. Litchfield also helped found the rehabilitation center Bayside Marin in 2004.

Roland Williams, co-founder of Bayside Marin, said the clinic was the result of Litchfield’s vision to “give back to people who had been struggling with addiction.”

“I think everyone is familiar with the Litchfield sign, there is a certain amount of notoriety that goes with that,” Williams said. “He had an idea, a vision. He wanted to do something and make a difference and he invested his time, energy and money into that.”

Charles Litchfield said, “He was able to help a lot of people who went through the program.”

Mr. Litchfield was a member of the Marin History Museum’s board of directors. According to his son, he sponsored humanitarian initiatives such as China Camp and local nonprofits through the Litchfield Foundation.

Mr. Litchfield is survived by his daughter-in-law Alena Litchfield, brothers Dennis and Rick Hiatt, sisters Darlene Litchfield Lathigee and Terry Sochet, and grandchildren Sasha, Ethan, and Katya Litchfield, in addition to his son.

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