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James Rolph, Jr.

James Rolph, Jr.Born: 23-Aug-1869
Birthplace: San Francisco, CA
Died: 2-Jun-1934
Location of death: Santa Clara County, CA [1]
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Greenlawn Memorial Park, Colma, CA

Gender: Male
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Government
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Mayor of San Francisco, 1912-31

San Francisco's longest-elected mayor, serving for 18 years. His longevity is mostly attributed to widespread popular appeal, for which he was nicknamed "Sunny Jim", though his business connections might have helped. Rolph ran a ship-building company before becoming mayor, and remained good friends with Herbert Fleishhacker, president of the London and Paris National Bank in San Francisco.

In 1915, he was vice-president of the Pan-Pacific Exhibition, which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal. Partly to honor this event, Rolph oversaw the reconstruction of the San Francisco City Hall, which had been mostly destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The new building took three years to complete, an astounding feat considering the original city hall took more than a decade.

Rolph resigned the position of mayor on 7 January 1931, the same day he was inaugurated as governor. During his tenure, Alcatraz was established as a federal prison, and the 1932 Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles -- probably the least successful Olympics as they were held in the middle of the Great Depression.

Midway through his term as governor, Brooke Hart, the son of a San Jose merchant, was kidnapped. His abductors were later caught and jailed, only to be removed from jail by a vigilante group and lynched. Rolph condoned the lynching, stating that justice had been served, for which he was reviled in the press. Rolph died several months later, three years into his first term.


[1] Riverside Farm, Santa Clara County, CA.

Father: James Rolph Sr.
Wife: Annie Marshall Reid
Brother: Thomas Rolph (R-Calif. 1941-45, b. 17-Jan-1885, d. 10-May-1956)

    Mayor of San Francisco (8-Jan-1912 to 7-Jan-1931)
    Governor of California (7-Jan-1931 to 2-Jun-1934)
    Improved Order of Red Men
    Heart Attack multiple
    English Ancestry Paternal


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