Longtime San Francisco political aide Hadley Roff was remembered by friends and family for his love of three things: his family, his city and politics.
After decades of working as a right-hand man to several politicians on a local and national level, including four mayors and six senators, Roff died Jan. 28 of natural causes, according to his family. He was 85.
A memorial service in Roff’s honor, held Tuesday morning at Delancey Street Foundation’s Town Hall Room, drew a number of local politicians, including Mayor Ed Lee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former mayor Willie Brown and former mayor Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Among the speakers at the memorial service was Feinstein, who described Roff as a loyal confidant throughout her political career in San Francisco.
The two first crossed paths while attending Stanford University in the 1950s and met again when she served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. At the time, Roff was working as journalist, serving as an editor for the Stanford Daily in 1953.
Feinstein and Roff worked side by side in 1978 when she was elected as the acting mayor after the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Taking the mayoral seat shortly after Moscone’s death, Feinstein went on to name Roff as deputy mayor.
“He had that solidarity,” Feinstein said. “He was intensely loyal and he was able to be a positive counselor in a very, very difficult period in time.”
Though San Francisco’s political scene remained Roff’s mainstay, he also spent 10 years in Washington D.C., consulting a number of senators. Besides working with Feinstein, Roff also worked closely with former San Francisco mayors Joseph Alioto, Art Agnos and Frank Jordan.
”When I became a supervisor, one of the first people you have to sit down with to meet was Hadley,” Newsom said at the memorial.
“A lot of people look to him for advice so he remained a strong influence politically until his death,” he added.
Outside of his political career, family and friends remembered Roff’s passion for literature and local sports, frequenting San Francisco 49ers games.
“You don’t get people that are as honest and genuine as he was,” said Elliot Trommald, Roff’s brother-in-law. “It wasn’t about his image or any of that, it was about his service and being part of San Francisco,”.
Roff is survived by his two sons, James and Timothy Roff.