Robert Doerr

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Robert Doerr
53rd Mayor of San Jose, California
In office
Preceded by George Starbird
Succeeded by Louis Solari
Personal details
Died December 5, 2013
Political party Democratic[1]
Residence San Jose, California
Profession Politician and educator

Robert C. Doerr (c. 1914 – December 5, 2013) was an American politician and educator. He served as the 53rd Mayor of San Jose, California, from 1956 to 1958. Doerr was the city's oldest living mayor at the time of his death in December 2013.[1]

Doerr's grandfather, Charles, served on the San Jose City Council.[1] His father, Fred Doerr, who was also a member of the city council, also served as the Mayor of San Jose from 1928 until 1930.[1] Robert Doerr lived with his family at a home at Fifth and William Streets during the 1930s.[1] He earned a bachelor's degree from San Jose State University.[2]

In 1950, Doerr and Alden Campen, a city landowner and World War II veteran, ran together as candidates for the San Jose City Council.[1] The two men promised that the city would acquire the San Jose Water Company if elected.[1] The San Jose Water Company countered Campen's and Doerr's campaigns by running a series of negative ads which portrayed them as socialists.[1] Campen lost the election, but Doerr was elected to the council.[1]

Doerr served on the city council during the 1950s. During the early part of the decade, Doerr proposed a new tax on the city's parochial schools.[1] The tax proposal, which was opposed by the city's Catholic community, was defeated following an effort led by John P. McEnery, the father of a future San Jose mayor, Tom McEnery.[1]

Doerr supported the policies of city manager, A. P. Hamann, who spearheaded much of the city's urban expansion during the 1950s and 1960s.[1] Hamann also had San Jose City Hall moved to a new location in Downtown San Jose in 1958.[1]

Doerr served one term as Mayor of San Jose from 1956 to 1958. At that time, the Mayor was chosen from members of the city council, rather than through a direct election.[1] As mayor (and a World War II veteran), Doerr pushed for closer ties between the city and Japan.[1] He established a sister city relationship between San Jose and Okayama.[1] He traveled to Okayama to mark the occasion, where he delivered a speech in Japanese from memory.[1] The city of San Jose also celebrated its centennial in 1957 during his tenure as mayor.[2]

At the time of his term of Mayor, a part-time job in a city of little more than 100,00, Doerr taught Civics at Willow Glen High School. He advised all of his students to buy real estate, that San Jose was going to be a big city. Speaking as a former student of that time, I wish I had heeded that bit of wisdom.

Doerr resided at the Atrium senior home in South San Jose during his later life.[1] He died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 99.[1]


Political offices
Preceded by
Parker Hathaway
Mayor of San Jose, California
Succeeded by
Louis Solari