NEWS RELEASE, 12/23/98
Former UC Berkeley professor, expert in child motor development, dies at age 95
By Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs
BERKELEY -- Anna S. Espenschade, a former University of California, Berkeley, professor renowned for her work tracking motor development among children, died on Nov. 27 following a short illness. She was 95.
Espenschade, a professor of physical education at UC Berkeley from 1928 to 1968, was on a cruise on the coast of Africa when she became ill. She returned to her home in Laguna Hills and died a few days later.
"Everyone held her in high regard," said Roberta Park, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus who worked with Espenschade in the campus' former Department of Physical Education. "She was self-effacing, kind and eminently professional."
Espenschade was born March 4, 1903, in Mifflintown, Penn. In 1924, she obtained her bachelor's degree in Spanish from Goucher College in Baltimore, Md. She went on to Wellesley College and gained a master's degree in hygiene and physical education . In 1939, she received a PhD in psychology from UC Berkeley.
She began exploring motor correlates of child development while working on her doctorate. In 1940, Espenschade published "Motor performance in adolescence," a monograph released through the Society for Research in Child Development.
The work was significant, said Park, because it was one of the most comprehensive and reliable studies of its kind at that date. This study, which extended over a period of years, evaluated balance, coordination and strength, among other things. It assessed children's skills at running, jumping and throwing.
From the 1940s through the 1960s, Espenschade continued such investigations, bringing together the findings of other researchers and her own work. Her 1967 book, "Motor Development," co-authored with colleague Helen Eckert, was long considered a classic in the field.
"It became the textbook in the field for at least 20 years," said Park.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Espenschade received numerous awards, including the Hetherington Award, the highest honor of the American Academy of Physical Education. She was also given the Honor Award from the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
Espenschade was on the advisory board of the President's Council on Youth Fitness, established in 1956 and later known as the President's Council on Physical Fitness. She was a guiding force in developing simple, reliable methods for school officials to gather data useful in measuring the physical ability of public school students.
That data formed a baseline measurement by which schools across the country could assess the athletic ability of children. The Council's 1961 booklet, "Youth Physical Fitness: Suggested Elements of a High School-Centered Program," was used for some 10 to 15 years, according to Park.
While at UC Berkeley, Espenschade served as Assistant Dean of Students, directed and served on scores of thesis and dissertation committees, and was an advisor to the Women's Athletic Association and the Women's "C" Society, an honor group for women who were active in athletics. Outside of campus she was president of numerous groups, including the American Academy of Physical Educators. She was vice president of the U.S. Field Hockey Association.
She is survived by her nephew, C. Wayne Espenschade of Missoula, Mt.
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