16 October 2002 |

Benjamin Diaz
Communication and Network Services Purchasing Supervisor Benjamin Diaz passed away Sept. 12, after a long battle with cancer.

Diaz began his university career in 1988 as a transportation coordinator with Fleet Services. In 1995 he joined Telecommunications, which later became part of IST/ Communication and Network Services (CNS), managing campus communication procurements. More recently, for CNS, he served as procurement and contracts supervisor, in charge of providing telephones and network equipment for the campus community.

Diaz’s sense of humor and his positive attitude were an inspiration to those who worked with him. And, although most of his contact with campus customers and vendors was by phone, many felt as if they knew him personally. Diaz was also kind and courteous, going to great lengths to expedite emergency orders for campus customers.

“Ben’s life touched everyone in CNS, and we won’t be able to look at a communication device without remembering him,” said longtime colleague Marv Eckard, associate director of IST/CNS.

Diaz, a lifelong resident of Castro Valley, is survived by his wife, Paulette; two sons, Ben Jr. and Jonathan; a daughter, Sarah; and a large circle of relatives and friends. Those wishing to remember Diaz may contribute to a scholarship fund in care of “The Diaz Children” at the Bank of America, 3067 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94554.

Charles ‘Ed’ Rossbach
Professor Emeritus Charles “Ed” Rossbach, considered the dean of contemporary American textiles because of his influence on generations of young fiber artists in the United States, died Oct. 7 after a long illness. He was 88.

A professor emeritus of design, Rossbach taught in the former departments of decorative art and design from 1950 to 1979. He also served as chair of the design department.

His textiles are part of important collections in the United States and Europe, including the Metropoli-tan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery.

“He was the greatest textile person in the country,” said Margaret “Penny” Dhaemers, professor emeritus of architecture and a former Rossbach colleague.

Rossbach was known for researching historical woven structures, such as netting and plaiting, used in the textiles and basketry of older civilizations. At the same time, he was a pioneer in the use of non-traditional materials like newspaper and plastics.

He played a key role in developing the San Francisco Bay Area as a center for fiber arts. His wife, artist and UC Davis emeritus professor of design Katherine Westphal, said he continued to practice many arts after his retirement, as well as to write, travel, and lecture.

Born in Edison Park near Chicago, Rossbach grew up in LaGrange, a Chicago suburb. He earned a bachelor’s degree in painting and design from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1940, a master’s in art education at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1941, and an MFA in weaving and ceramics from the Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hill, Mich. in 1947.

During World War II, he served in the Army’s Signal Corps. For two years afterward, he studied on the GI Bill, then began teaching painting and design at the University of Washington. There he met his wife, as well as Lea Miller, who headed the UC Berkeley weaving department and invited him to teach a summer course at Berkeley; he stayed nearly 30 years.

Weaving courses were part of the decorative arts department in the College of Letters and Science when Rossbach first came to Berkeley. The decorative arts department merged with the College of Environmental Design in 1975, to become the Program of Visual Design.

Inez Brooks-Myers, curator of costume and textiles at the Oakland Museum of California and a former Rossbach student, said Rossbach attracted a design faculty at Berkeley that was unrivaled. In addition, she said, he was a professor “without peer. He was gentle and kind and he listened and he challenged.”

Rossbach’s own work was unparalleled, Brooks-Myers said. “He didn’t follow all the rules. He had a wicked sense of humor and could use the most old and tested techniques to create the wildest and funniest works of art.”

“He could do something funny that resonated very far, connecting to aspects of our culture,” said Gyongy Laky, a former student and a professor of design at UC Davis, adding that Rossbach could produce historical, political, or social statements within pieces of wonderful tactile and visual art.

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