Leonard M. Salle; Worked to Promote Progressive Politics

From News Services and Staff Reports
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Leonard Myron Salle, 69, who co-founded a progressive coalition of think tanks called the Commonweal Institute, died May 5 at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., of complications of heart bypass surgery.

Mr. Salle, a civil engineer by trade, created the organization with his wife, Katherine Forrest, after the 2000 presidential election. In March, it sponsored the Progressive Roundtable, part of an effort to create a political infrastructure to rival well-established conservative political groups.

Mr. Salle was born in Detroit and graduated from Wayne State University. He moved to San Mateo, Calif., in 1960 and worked for engineering design and construction firms. He retired in 2001 from Santa Clara County's Environmental Resources Agency. He was elected president of the county's engineers and architects union and created the 14-union County Employee Labor Alliance. He was also a fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers.

His marriage to Suzanne Salle ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, of Portola Valley, Calif.; two sons from his first marriage, William Salle of Agoura Hills, Calif., and Stephen Salle of Sacramento; two stepsons, Eric Finseth of McLean and Ian Finseth of Denton, Tex.; a brother; and six grandchildren.

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