Modesto, Calif., (February 28, 2017) – The California dairy industry lost one of its top legal minds and advocates last week. John Vlahos, who had been an integral part of the California milk pricing world since 1964 –defending California dairy farmers at the state appellate court level all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, has passed away. Mr. Vlahos has recently been a vocal advocate for dairy farmers on the litigation team to include California dairy producers into a Federal Milk Marketing Order. His guiding light and deep background of the California dairy industry will be greatly missed.
The son of Greek immigrants, Dimitrios and Eleni Vlahos, John grew up in Tracy and Oakland. He attended the University of California, graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in economics in 1957, and was the sports editor of The Daily Cal. “Every Cal sports fan knows the meaning of suffering,” John would say, and he certainly suffered a lot. From 1948 through 2015, John personally attended all but seven Cal football games; for five decades, he served as the internal press box announcer at Memorial Stadium. In 2007, backed by fundraising from the Class of 1957, he edited and produced a new Cal Songbook.
After earning a law degree from Hastings, John clerked for Justice Raymond Sullivan at the California Court of Appeal. In 1962, he was the eighth person hired at the firm that became Hanson Bridgett. In the early years he represented everyone from a bank robber to the maker of “Star Trek”-themed wine bottles. As the firm grew, he became the managing partner and also represented the Golden Gate Bridge District, the League of California Milk Producers, SamTrans, and BART. On multiple occasions John announced his retirement, but it never quite took, and he finished his last major case in 2016.
John died in his sleep from lung cancer, at home, with his family around. He is survived by his wife, Martha; his sisters Betty Christian and Marie Petris; his children, Jennifer, James, and Jonathan; and seven grandchildren.
Friends and family are invited to a celebration of John’s life, which will take place at 3pm on March 12, 2017 at the Mira Vista Golf & Country Club in El Cerrito.