Edward M. ‘Pete’ Bull, Jr.
July 16, 1934 – October 29, 2019
Born in New York City, Peter Bull left the life he was expected to lead in the family shipping business, and moved to San Francisco in 1961 to become an admiralty lawyer. Inspired by the civil rights and anti-war movements, and working on pro-bono projects outside the law firm, when he was offered a partnership as long as he would cut his hair, shave his mustache, and stop doing pro-bono work, he declined the offer. Instead, he took a job with a non-profit, grew a beard, and became a crusader of juvenile justice representing inner city youths and a leader of the National reform of the juvenile justice system. Peter followed his heart and devoted his life to serving those less fortunate, and in so doing, was rewarded with a long, happy and meaningful life in his beloved City by the Bay.
“E. Myron Bull, Jr.” was born on July 16, 1934 to his parents, Edward “Pete” Myron Bull and Frances Patten Bull. “Peter” as he would soon be called, was groomed from a young age to take over the helm of the family business. Peter spent much of his youth away from the family in boarding school and sailing as a cadet on the “Bull Lines” ships. He attended St. Paul’s preparatory school, and in 1952, he was admitted to Yale University, where he rowed crew and spent his free time racing sports cars. Peter received his BA from Yale in 1956. Thereafter, he enlisted in the United States Navy, where he was stationed at Pearl Harbor, and served as a gunnery officer aboard destroyers.
When Peter’s father died of a heart attack at the age of just 49, a decision soon had to be made on whether to sell the Bull Lines. Peter decided to do what he felt his father always wanted to do, which was to practice law, and upon being discharged from the Navy, Peter was admitted to Harvard Law School. Having always loved San Francisco, after graduating from Harvard in 1961, Peter accepted a job as a maritime lawyer with the firm of Graham & James in San Francisco.
Graham & James was a firm dedicated to serving San Francisco’s thriving maritime industry and was a natural fit for Peter. However, as he was increasingly assigned to non-maritime work, he began to tire of the corporate law. When his first marriage (to Deirdre Bloomfield Brown – Buddhist teacher and author Pema Chodron) ended in divorce in 1965, his interests turned to the civil rights and anti-war movements, and he spent more and more time on social justice and pro-bono legal projects. Although Peter was successful at Graham & James, when the time came to again choose the path expected of him, he decided to commit his life to helping others and to living the life that he wanted.
Living in San Francisco, with its large population of poor inner city youth, Peter was struck by the way society treated children when they had the misfortune of coming in contact with the criminal justice system, where they were far too often institutionalized and destined to a life of incarceration. Soon after leaving Graham & James, he took a position as a staff attorney for the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, and ultimately served as the Director of the National Center for Youth Law. Peter spear-headed the movement to force the courts and the state and federal governments to recognize the legal rights of children, and prosecuted cases on their behalf, handling many precedent setting cases before the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. He was also one of the founders of the influential organization Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, and served as a leader on the Board for 35 years. He was revered by his fellow board members, the staff, the youth and parent advocates. Peter’s gentle manner belied his passion and outrage about the mistreatment of young people, and for years, he rarely missed a meeting of the Juvenile Probation Commission, where he would present policy proposals and remind Commissioners that their accountability was to the youth. According to his fellow advocates, when Peter spoke, everyone listened.
In 1978 Peter’s health and happiness were blessed by his marriage to the love of his life, Elaine Miller Bull. His penchant for cars and motor cycles continued, and he and Elaine became licensed pilots, and for many years they traveled around the country in their small single engine plane, with Peter becoming instrument rated and training in aerobatics. Peter lived out his retirement years enjoying traveling, train spotting and spending time with his children and grandchildren in his home in San Francisco. Peter is survived by his wife, Elaine Miller Bull, his children, Arlyn P. Bull and Edward M. Bull III, his stepchildren, Kenneth Sandmann and Kathrine York, his sister and brother-in-law, Frances and Robert Bunn, his grandchildren Alexandria Eyes, Edward “Pete” M. Bull IV, James Bull, Julian Sandmann, Heather York, and Sarah Clark, his great-grandchildren Grayson, Parker and Lillian, and his nieces and nephew, Carol Stewart, Robin Martin, Andrew Bunn and Katie Bunn-Marcuse.
A celebration of Peter’s life will be held at 2 pm on Saturday January 4, 2020 at the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco.