East Bay Residents Who Touched Our Lives

Teachers and leaders, scientists and artists, natives and transplants, these people left the East Bay poorer for their passing but a richer place for the memories, the works, and the legacies they left behind. We bid farewell to the friends and heroes we lost this year and remember the ways that they touched our lives.


Photo of August Lee Collins by Eric Muetterties

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The true measure of a lifetime isn’t the number of years lived, but how those years are spent. Those people who pass through the East Bay leave their own indelible footprints, so even after they are gone, we can still see them around—in the words they’ve written, the pictures they’ve painted, and the lives they’ve touched. Teachers and leaders, scientists and artists, natives and transplants, these are people who left the East Bay poorer for their passing but a richer place for the memories, the works, and the legacies they left behind. We bid farewell to the friends and heroes we lost this year and remember the ways that they touched our lives.

D’Army Bailey, 73. Committed to Civil Rights Fairness. Growing up in racially segregated Memphis in the 1950s, Bailey understood the injustice of discrimination from an early age and never lost his passion in fighting for equality in all its forms.

As a freshman at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, he earned his lifelong reputation as a political firebrand by leading vocal antisegregation protests that ultimately got him expelled for embarrassing the school administration. After hearing about his expulsion, civil rights activists at Clark University in Massachusetts raised scholarship money for him. His experience leaving Southern University did not cow him, and Bailey continued to lead demonstrations against racial discrimination and unfair housing practices while at his new school.

After graduating, he went on to attend Yale law school, eventually becoming a lawyer and circuit court judge. He moved to Berkeley in the late ’60s, where he served as a city councilman for four years. His outspoken views were deemed radical by some, but as a Berkeley councilman, he always campaigned for equal access to jobs, housing, and childcare programs for all—a civil rights leader and champion from the get-go.

Bailey is best known for his fight to prevent the demolition of the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; Bailey was instrumental in turning the motel into the National Civil Rights Museum, which he hoped would inspire future generations of African-Americans to continue King’s legacy. Although he resigned from the museum board shortly before the museum’s opening, he left an indelible mark on civil rights history with his passion and commitment to justice.

Rosario Anaya, 70. Education Activist. A former Oakland resident, Anaya served as the first Latina member of the San Francisco Board of Education during the ’80s, where her principled stands to improve student learning and protect teachers’ jobs won her respect but not always popularity. She also served as executive director of the Mission Language Vocational School since 1973 and founded the Latino Cuisine Culinary Academy in 1998.

John W. Berger, 94. U.S.S. Hornet Museum Chaplain. A distinguished Navy veteran and retired commander, Berger was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V designation for his service as an army medic during World War II. Both a longtime donor and volunteer at the U.S.S. Hornet Museum, Berger held Sunday services in the museum’s chapel for the last 18 years with military precision and dedication.

Curtiss Westerfield Bolton, 59. Alameda Harbor Master. Starting as a dock hand at the Oakland Marina, Bolton rose to become Harbor Master for Oakland and Alameda through hard work and a knack for hands-on mechanical work. Bolton worked to double the size of Alameda Yacht Harbor and helped with reconstruction of the old Jack London Marina. A dedicated social activist in his youth, Bolton protested the war in Vietnam and joined with Cesar Chavez to march for the rights of California farmworkers.

Dan Fredinburg, 33. UC Berkeley Alumnus and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur. A software savant who held more than 50 patents and was famed for his work on YouTube and Google Plus, Fredinburg is best known as the driving force behind the Google Adventure Team, which attempted to bring Google Earth-style street-mapping to remote natural wonders like mountain ranges, forests, and coral reefs. Before moving to Google, Fredinburg worked on future combat systems in the defense industry at Boeing.

W. Norton Grubb, 67. Professor Emeritus of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education. Deeply concerned with inequality in the funding and performance of America’s schools, Grubb dedicated his scholarly knowledge to fighting against disparity in education. He developed UC Berkeley’s Principal Leadership Institute, which helps promote leadership to guide underprivileged urban schools.

Irvin C. Hamilton Jr., 79. Public Relations and Advertising Executive and Government Consultant. After being diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the retired Alameda PR-advertising-marketing-communications guru faced the future with courage and humor. A natural storyteller, he started attending support meetings at Alzheimers Services of the East Bay and eventually became a member of its advisory council, where his eloquent manner and ready wit helped others to understand the challenges of living with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He broke the ground for the ASEB new Memory Care Center on the campus of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose in Fremont.

Celeste Jewel Howell, 50. Jewelry Artist. A devoted Buddhist who strove to live her life with peace and tranquility, Howell was also a talented artist who used recycled gold, driftwood, and other natural materials in her work. Howell created her work at The Hive studios in Jack London Square in Oakland and displayed her work at Arts & Crafts Cooperative Inc. Gallery, or ACCI Gallery, in Berkeley.

Barbara Ann Kerr, 85. Former Alameda Councilwoman. Before moving to Alameda in the late 1950s, Kerr was the first woman to work at the General Electric reactor physics laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y. Later as an active participant in the Alameda community, she served on the City Council for almost a decade, and became famous for her outspoken views and willingness to stand against the majority. She supported the formation of the Alameda Arts Council and helped start the annual Art in the Park show in Jackson Park.

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