Obituary: Former Atherton resident, roller derby league owner Jerry Seltzer


Longtime former Atherton resident Jerry Seltzer died on July 1 at the age of 87. The cause of death was pulmonary fibrosis, his family said.

Seltzer, who lived in Sonoma most recently, owned a roller derby league and had various business ventures during his life, according to his son Steve Seltzer, who confirmed his death. Seltzer lived in Atherton from around 1963 to 1978, his son said.

"I won't dwell on this and have no fear of death," Jerry Seltzer wrote in a blog post last September when he learned his pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis was terminal. "I have had a great and interesting life, and love my family, children and grandchildren, and the others who have brought me to this point."

Born in Portland, Oregon, on June 3, 1931, Seltzer moved to Chicago when he was 12. He attended Stanford University and Northwestern University, earning a bachelor's degree in business from Northwestern.

Seltzer's father, Leo Seltzer, created the roller derby league and invented the sport of roller derby in the 1930s in Chicago, according to Steve Seltzer. Jerry Seltzer worked for a sporting goods company, and spent evenings as a trackside announcer for the Roller Derby, his son said, adding that he took over the league in 1959 and used videotapes to build the sport into a major attraction.

Jerry Seltzer also started Bay Area Seating Service (BASS), a computerized ticketing service, his son said. During his time with BASS, he and the company were active in charitable organizations and philanthropic ventures such as Thunder Road and The BASS Tickets Foundation, according to his son.

In another life pursuit, Jerry Seltzer also toured as the box office and tickets manager for Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review in 1974, Steve said, adding that his father also worked with Charlie MacGoo Productions to put on shows featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and others.

After BASS, Seltzer worked for Ticketmaster as executive vice president of sales. He then moved to Sonoma and founded the Sonoma Film Festival to help revive the Sebastiani Theater, his son said.

Seltzer is survived by his ex-wife Marjorie Seltzer; his children Richard, Steven and Ellen; and four grandchildren.

The family plans to host a celebration of life at a later time, Steve Seltzer said.

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