S. Dorothy Metzger Fox

Date of Birth

July 15, 1930

Date of Death

February 23, 2023

Sally Dorothy (so named because with her mother’s Yiddish accent, it sounded like Solidarity) grew up during the depression in Seagate, Brooklyn, New York, near Coney Island. Her family was poor and early on, were squatters. Once they were more well situated, she would accompany her mother to help displaced squatters move their furniture back in when they were kicked out.

She began school at the age of six, only speaking Yiddish, and graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School.

She met her first husband, Walter Fox, on the beach in Coney Island when she was 17 and married him 3 years later. They moved to Switzerland where Walter would attend his first two years of medical school.

Her oldest daughter, Laura, was born in Switzerland.

The young family moved to Boston where Walter finished medical school and then back to Brooklyn for his internship. Dorothy returned to college with Laura in tow and graduated from Brooklyn College.

In 1956, they moved to Los Angeles where her husband did his residency. During his residency she had her two other daughters, Andrea and Erica.

She went back to get her master’s in history at Cal State Los Angeles. This is where she met Timothy Harding, her professor, who would become her second husband. Together, they had many great adventures.

She briefly taught history at East Los Angeles College and then went on to law school, with Erica in tow. She graduated from Loyola Law School and passed the bar on her first try in 1972.

Soon after graduating, she sued the City of Los Angeles for violating the Separation of Church and State clause of the Constitution by lighting the windows of City Hall in the shape of a cross at Easter and Christmas. In a landmark decision Fox vs. City Hall, she prevailed (she received hate mail and death threats) after the city appealed to the California State Supreme Court in 1978.

She worked for the NLRB and then opened her family law practice. She bought her suits in the boys’ department at Bullocks.

She represented her daughter Laura in her divorce in 1976.

She did her own divorce from Walter and, then, he performed her hysterectomy. Professional courtesy all around.

In the 1980’s and 90’s, she could be seen at Beverly Hills City Council meetings speaking in opposition to the menorah placed in the public park along Santa Monica Blvd, again claiming it violated separation of church and state and citing her Fox vs. City Hall decision.

She began buying property in Santa Barbara and she and Tim moved up there permanently in 1998.

She, and the Mesa Shoreline Association, blocked the building of a 4-lane street and created the current Shoreline Park and the bike lanes, the beautiful Santa Barbara amenity that it is today.

Dorothy’s world vision can be best explained by this story: In the late 1960’s, she bought a mink coat. She was afraid to show it to her mother who had been a union organizer and worked as a coat finisher in the garment district in New York. She modeled the coat for her mother who was delighted. Dorothy said, “You’re not angry?” Her mother looked at the coat and said “Well, Dorothy, you know, nothing’s too good for the working class.”

She never raised the rent on her tenants, as long as they were good tenants.

She was the best friend and the most formidable enemy. She loved her daughters and thought they were the most marvelous people.

Her ashes were scattered off the coast of Santa Barbara that she so loved.

She is survived by her husband, Timothy Harding, and her children: Laura Eve Fox, MD, (John Hofbauer, MD), Andrea Rose Fox, MD (Ken Thompson, MD), Erica Jean Fox (John Newby) and her grandchildren: Claire Fox Hofbauer, Alexander Fox Hofbauer, Harry Stewart Thompson, Alice Fox Thompson, MD, Lewis Laufer Thompson, Franklin Fox Newby and Mae Constance Fox Newby.

Dorothy was petite but powerful. She will be missed for her fierceness in her beliefs, wit, laughter, beautiful singing voice and love, all traits she passed on to her three daughters. We all miss her. We always will.

Sally Dorothy forever!

Donations, in her honor, may be made to HIAS, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Planned Parenthood and Jewish Voice for Peace


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