UC Berkeley press release


UC Berkeley speech writer and journalist Lynn Kidder died of breast cancer on Tuesday (7/16)

by Jesus Mena

Berkeley -- Lynn Kidder, professional speech writer and journalist, died Tuesday morning (7/16) after a two-year bout with breast cancer. She was 46.

As a former reporter for the Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times, Kidder wrote extensively on the issues affecting public schools, covering both the promise and the plight of education in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Her stories in the classroom captured the human drama that is learning. Her coverage of the school boards focused on the backroom politicking, revealing stories that gained her staunch supporters as well as harsh critics.

In 1988, she began working for the University of California at Berkeley as a writer for the staff newspaper, the Berkeleyan. Her quick wit and insightful writing soon made her a popular personality on the Berkeley campus.

When Chang-Lin Tien became chancellor in 1990, she interned as his part-time speech writer, then was promoted to a full-time position. She soon found herself assisting Tien with his seemingly endless public presentations that were spawned by the fiscal crisis and political controversies that beset the UC system in recent years.

"Lynn was an extremely talented writer," said Chancellor Tien. "I was very fortunate to have her working for me. The campus will sorely miss her."

Kidder graduated with an B.A. in political science from UC Berkeley in 1972. As a political activist of the period, she refrained from pursuing a typical career path.

In 1974, she went to work as administrative assistant for the nascent Center for Independent Living (CIL). This center was the first in the country to challenge the notion that people with disabilities need to live with their families or in nursing homes. It spawned a movement that led to establishment of over 300 such centers nationally.

"Lynn was the behind-the-scenes, brilliant person who strategized and helped develop programs at CIL but never took credit for them," said Kitty Cone of the Disabilities Rights Education and Defense Fund.

Kidder received her M.A. from UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism in 1980. She worked initially for the Merced Sun Star and the Antioch Daily Ledger.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kidder was the youngest of three sisters. She is survived by her husband Kyle Heger of Richmond, her five-year-old son Luis Kidder-Heger, her mother Lois Kidder of Woodland Hills, and her sisters Gail Dodson of Nipomo, California and Kay Kidder of Berkeley.

A memorial service will be held Friday, July 19, at the UC Berkeley's Alumni House at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations be made to the Bay Area Adoption Services, 465 Fairchild Dr., Suite 215, Mountain View CA 94043.

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