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Berkeleyan

Annual ceremony to honor the past year’s deceased has become a new campus tradition
‘Virtual memorial’ site offers another way to mourn — online

| 17 September 2003

A year ago this month, Cal paused for one hour to honor members of the campus community who had died during the preceding year. Now, in what is a new tradition, family, friends, and colleagues of the recently deceased will gather on the west side of California Hall from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. on Tues., Sept. 23, for the annual campuswide memorial.

During the event, the names of more than 60 individuals who have died in the past year — emeriti, staff, academic employees, undergraduates and grad students, staff retirees, and one former chancellor — will be read aloud. As at last year’s event — described by many attendees as meaningful and moving — the ceremony will also include music, singing, and poetry, as well as brief remarks by Chancellor Berdahl. Additionally, the names of the deceased will be read and then placed on view for the day, on a stand next to the flagpole at the site of the event.

Virtual memorials
Members of the campus community may also visit a comprehensive website — Guidelines for Responding to Death, at death-response.chance.berkeley.edu — for detailed guidelines, including a timeline, on how to respond to the death of a student, co-worker, or any other member of the campus community. Offerings include resources available throughout the year and a place to create memorials in cyberspace.

For administrative analyst Helen Clifton, the “virtual memorial” site has provided “a beautiful mechanism” for giving sorrow a voice, providing “a little space in time where you’re focusing on your memory of that person,” she says.

Clifton penned one of several “virtual” tributes to Richard Ares, a longtime employee of the business-services office at the Graduate School of Education, whose sudden death last October was a shock to many.

“Rich was an endlessly intriguing fellow [who] knew so much about such oddly disparate things,” Clifton wrote in a virtual memorial to her effervescent colleague. She and Ares, it turned out, both appreciated the writer Saki (H.H. Munro). “Early in our acquaintance, after Rich had found me out as a fan, he’d quote me a snippet from a short story almost every time we’d pass in the halls,” she recalled. “I couldn’t wait to get home to check out whether I’d properly identified the epigram…. I’ll miss our game, and also the pure pleasure of hearing Rich’s beautiful singing voice in the stairwell.”

Members of the campus community are also invited to use the virtual memorial site to create personal tributes to family members and friends outside of work, says Carol Hoffman, manager of University Health Services’ Work/Life Program. One staffer, learning-skills counselor Rondi Gilbert-Mauldon, wrote a moving tribute there to her mother, Helen Gilbert-Bushnell, who at age 40, a mother of seven children, began a career as a painter, sculptor, and eventually as an art professor at several New York schools.

Also featured on the death-response website is information on grief and loss (such as the typical stages of grief, beginning with shock and disbelief) and a listing of resources on and off-campus, including emergency loan funds, for those in mourning.

The names of deceased to be honored on Sept. 23 are online. If any member of the campus community who died in the past year has been inadvertently omitted, contact Jami Lieb (cio@uclink4.berkeley.edu) by noon on Monday, Sept. 22, so that the individual can be remembered officially at the memorial service. Please contact Lieb, as well, if there are any errors or omissions in the information provided in the online listing.