Irving Goldberg donated more than 5,000 hours as a museum docent.

Obituary: Retiree Irving Goldberg was trip narrator on Amtrak's California Zephyr

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 7:45 am

Irving Goldberg, a retiree who shared his lifelong love of trains as a trip narrator aboard Amtrak's California Zephyr, died Feb. 3 of prostate cancer complications, his family said. He was 85.

A San Francisco native who grew up riding the city's famed cable cars, Mr. Goldberg retired on a Friday in 1992 after 42 years as a state worker.

The following Monday, he reported to the California State Railroad Museum as a volunteer docent and eventually was greeting passengers on the Sacramento Southern Railroad excursion ride along the Sacramento River levee.

He served as a guide on the Zephyr from Sacramento to Reno, narrating the history and natural beauty along the scenic route. A genial man with an easy smile, he entertained passengers with stories about the Gold Rush and how settlers came to California.

"When he was on the train, he gave his talk with a lot of enthusiasm," said his son, Neal. "He really loved talking and engaging with people."

Mr. Goldberg donated more than 5,000 hours as a museum docent, his son said. He was a trustee, former treasurer and office volunteer for many years at Mosaic Law Congregation in Sacramento.

Born with a twin sister March 22, 1927, he served as an Army medic during World War II. He graduated and earned a master's degree in soil science from UC Berkeley. He worked for the California Department of Water Resources before a long career as a radiological inspector for the state Department of Public Health.

Mr. Goldberg was a Sacramento resident. He was predeceased by his wife of 52 years, Dianne, a nurse who volunteered at the Sacramento Children's Home.

He is survived by his children, Cynthia of Sacramento, Pamela Wald of Carmichael, Nina of Lodi, and Neal of Santa Rosa; and a grandson.

A funeral was held Feb. 6. Donations in memory of Mr. Goldberg may be made to Mosaic Law Congregation, 2300 Sierra Blvd., Sacramento 95825.

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