World traveler, Berkeley political activist David Mundstock dies at 72

Photo of David Mundstock
Andrea Young/Courtesy
David Mundstock

UC Berkeley alumnus, local political activist and world traveler David Mundstock died Aug. 28 at the age of 72.

From political activism in Berkeley to documenting his travels around the world, Mundstock was filled with passion. Among his many political endeavors, Mundstock fought for rent control in Berkeley, worked with state Sen. Nancy Skinner and raffled off a kilogram of marijuana to increase voter turnout for the 1973 Berkeley Marijuana Initiative.

Mundstock was also instrumental in changing the date of local elections from April to November to bring more people to the polls, according to friend Marty Schiffenbauer.

“Years ago, David Mundstock taught me how to register students to vote with an ironing board and a clipboard in Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza,” Skinner said on Twitter. “Had I not gotten sucked into David’s orbit, the April Coalition and BCA [Berkeley Citizens Action], the rest — being elected 1st student to Berkeley City Council to my political career today — would not have happened.”

Passionate about voter registration, Mundstock believed every campaign advertisement should include information about registration, often approaching candidates with suggestions on how to register more voters, according to friend Carla Woodworth.

Along with his progressive political activism, Mundstock also accumulated a large collection of posters, buttons and other political memorabilia over many years.

The collection is being handled by Mundstock’s friend and political poster scholar Lincoln Cushing. Ideally, the pieces will all be kept together in a place that is highly accessible to the public, Cushing said, describing the process of finding a home for the collection as “a labor of love, just as it was for him.”

“He had an old car, lived in a home that he didn’t fix up. His bedroom looked like a college dorm, just a single bed. He didn’t invest in personal luxuries. He was really committed to democracy in America,” Cushing said. “It was really sweet that he really cared about making sure that aspect of his life is going to go forward.”

Beyond his work as a political activist, Mundstock was also a lawyer at the California Energy Commission legal office for 22 years.

Mundstock worked on a number of power plant cases, helped with energy efficiency standards for lighting and was well known for writing a jargon understanding glossary, according to coworker William Chamberlain. Mundstock was a team player, even joining the legal office softball team, called the Gasaholics.

“David also had a unique sense of humor, as anyone who entered his office would know right away upon seeing on his wall two energy efficient fluorescent lamps wearing the ties that he very seldom wore himself,” Chamberlain said in an email.

Not only did Mundstock make an impact on the Berkeley community, he also took his passions worldwide. He brought his adventures back to share with friends and family, maintaining a website and YouTube page as the “Intrepid Berkeley Explorer.”

Richard Illgen, a friend of Mundstock’s, noted that Mundstock used to host viewing parties for friends and family to recount his travels. The viewing parties go back years, but the most recent one was about six months ago.

“He would like to be remembered as someone who was instrumental in what happened in Berkeley, but also, I think he’d like to be remembered as someone who enjoyed the travels, seeing other people, seeing other cultures, seeing other things around the world to expand his own horizons,” Illgen said.

Contact Taylor Rudman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @TaylorRudman.