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In memoriam

Claire Louise Englander (1945-2013)

by David Smith

Claire Englander, a University employee of nearly 30 years, and more recently, a donor and volunteer at UCMP, passed away on July 15 after a long battle with cancer. She began working at the University in 1984 as a secretary with the College of Engineering. Later, she worked at the University and Jepson Herbaria, served as an assistant to the disabled, and then found a home in the campus library system, taking positions at the Biosciences Library, The Bancroft Library, the Conservation/Preservation Department, Map Room, and finally the Technical Services Department.

Claire, as her brother Phil noted, had a "burning desire for knowledge." For the past five to ten years she was a fixture in UCMP Curator and Professor of Integrative Biology Kevin Padian's paleontology classes, but Claire also audited classes in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences and attended seminars. Claire was fascinated with paleontology — she was engrossed in a text on vertebrate paleontology when she began volunteering at the museum — and she was a generous donor to the museum's research and education programs, often preferring to remain anonymous.

Her volunteer work at the museum began in September of 2011, after learning of the museum's grant-funded project to catalog our archives. She had plenty of library experience so Claire was put to work rehousing and creating indexes for the papers of vertebrate paleontologist Ruben A. Stirton. Claire found Stirton's correspondence absorbing and was always bringing some interesting aspect of it to my attention.

Claire was a remarkable woman. Despite being 67 and in her twelfth year of chemotherapy, she continued to come to work at the library and volunteer as her health allowed. If she felt too ill to come in, she would apologize profusely. I would continually remind Claire that she was a volunteer — she could make her own hours — but she had been given a job to do and was determined to do it. Because of her schedule at the library, Claire asked if it would be possible for her to come in on weekends and work past 5:00 pm on weekdays. The only way to accommodate her was to "buy" a small piece of her time from the library and to put her on the museum payroll. Claire was so appreciative of this that she wrote:

Lately I have been remembering "An old man goes to Paris, as every old man must. He finds the winds blow cold, and his dreams have turned to dust." I feel very old, and with this great kindness, I no longer feel that way — that my dreams have turned to dust. Something that I never dreamed of — an honor like working for UCMP, for any amount!

Claire refused to let her illness keep her from living life to the fullest. She continued to read, learn, travel, and challenge herself until the very end. She was truly extraordinary and will be missed.

Robert Mendez

Robert Mendez graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Anthropology and founded NetHawk.net in 1998. For the last eight years, Robert had been a Friend of UCMP in every sense of the word. He not only offered us financial support, but he also placed great value on our efforts in science education and loved to brainstorm about different strategies to counter misrepresentations of science and anti-science agendas. Though Robert was a fighter, he lost his battle with cancer in June, and UCMP lost a great friend. We will miss him.