Obituaries: Roger Montgomery, Frank Pitelka
29 October 2003
Roger Montgomery, a former dean of the College of Environmental Design (CED), an emeritus professor of both the architecture and city and regional planning departments, and a long-time champion of affordable housing, social equity, and historic preservation, died Oct. 25 at his Berkeley home. He was 78 and had had both cancer and multiple sclerosis.
An expert in 20th-century architectural history, housing, architecture, urban planning, and redevelopment, Montgomery taught thousands of students during the course of his 40-plus years in the classroom and design studio. Montgomery served as dean of CED from 1988 until his retirement in 1996. In 1994, he was awarded the Berkeley Citation.
Born in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Montgomery moved with his family to a Long Island suburb when he was four, yet spent much of his spare time as a youngster inside Manhattan’s art and history museums. He often said that his season ticket to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, and its utopian examples of urban design, provided the most life-altering experience of his youth.
During World War II, Montgomery worked in machine shops and assembly plants, becoming in the process a labor organizer and activist. He studied sociology and political science at Oberlin College. In 1945, he joined the U.S. Army and served with its Security Agency in occupied Germany, listening primarily to Russian communications.
After returning from Europe in 1947, he married Oberlin classmate Mary Hoyt, and the couple settled in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
One day, Montgomery walked into the office of a Yellow Springs architecture firm and demanded to be trained. His son, Peter, recalled that, within two years, his father was running entire building jobs for high schools, factories, auto dealerships, and single-family homes.
From 1954 to 1956, Montgomery attended Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He taught at Washington University in St. Louis, starting in 1957, and formed the school’s Urban Renewal Design Center. He also was a principal in a St. Louis-based architecture and planning practice from 1957 to 1970, and took a three-year leave of absence from Washington University in 1962 to become the first urban designer for the U.S. Housing and Home Finance Agency, forerunner of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Montgomery joined the Berkeley faculty in 1967. His charge was to develop a new degree program that eventually became CED’s master’s in urban design.
A backer of the Free Speech Movement, People’s Park, and other liberal causes of the 1960s and ’70s, Montgomery was extremely popular with students. During that era, he grew out his military-style crew cut, continuing to wear a beard and long, white hair until his death.
Montgomery founded the CED Alumni Association in 1989 and was a founding member of the Society of American City and Regional Planning History. He served from 1989 to 2002 on the board of trustees of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. After his retirement, he worked weekly as a peer counselor for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Survivors include his sons, Richard of Santa Cruz, Thomas of Richmond, and Peter of Berkeley, and six grandchildren, all in California. Montgomery’s wife, Mary, died in 1980.
A campus memorial service is scheduled for spring 2004. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the campus’s Consortium for the Arts, 201 Dwinelle Annex, UC Berkeley, MC 1054, Berkeley, CA, 94720-1054. Its website is www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/bca/.
— Kathleen Maclay
Frank Alois Pitelka, a professor emeritus of zoology who for decades studied bird and mammal behavior and ecology in the Alaskan Arctic and California, died Oct. 10 at the age of 87.
A former resident of Berkeley, Pitelka passed away at his daughter’s home in Altadena, Calif., from complications of prostate cancer.
Walter Koenig, adjunct professor of integrative biology and a former student of Pitelka’s, described his former teacher as “an amazing mentor to a whole generation of students coming of age in the heyday of behavioral ecology.”
Pitelka also contributed greatly to the campus’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. He was curator of birds there from 1949 until 1963 and served for many years as associate director, with primary responsibility for the Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley, a 2000-acre ecological study site operated by the museum.
One of Pitelka’s long-term projects was a 19-year study of brown lemming populations in the Arctic that began in 1955. He and his students concentrated on the reasons for the cyclic ups and downs in population density. His interests included, as well, the behavioral ecology of Alaskan shorebirds.
Pitelka was born in Chicago in 1916 and attended the University of Illinois, from which he earned a B.S. summa cum laude in 1939. He immediately headed west to Berkeley, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1946. It was here that he met his wife, Dorothy Riggs Pitelka, a fellow graduate student. They married in 1943.
He joined the zoology department faculty four years later, and served as department chair from 1963 to 1966 and again from 1968 to 1971. Aside from his term as associate director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, he was a research ecologist there from 1967 until his retirement in 1985. He was recalled after his retirement and continued his association with the museum until 1997.
Pitelka received various honors during his career, including, on campus, the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Berkeley Citation. He served on the editorial boards of numerous journals, on the editorial committee of University of California Press for nine years, and on numerous federal committees and panels, including at the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and the National Academy of Sciences.
A cultured man, Pitelka was an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and a great lover of opera.
His wife, a cancer researcher and adjunct professor of zoology, died of Alzheimer’s disease in 1994. They are survived by sons Louis, of Maryland, and Vince, of Tennessee; daughter Kazi, of Altadena, Calif.; five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
A campus memorial is being planned for next spring. Donations in memory of Pitelka can be made to the Pitelka Award Fund of the International Society of Behavioral Ecology, c/o Walter Koenig, treasurer, Hastings Natural History Reservation, 38601 E. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, or to the Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org.
— Robert Sanders