They Made a Brighter Future

To usher out 2017, we’re bidding a final farewell to East Bay luminaries who made the future brighter.


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Daschel “Dash” Butler, 66. Former Berkeley police chief. Even as a lieutenant in Berkeley’s police force, Butler showed a natural aptitude for leadership with his easy confidence and eye for improvement. He pushed for expansion of the Special Enforcement Unit to address growing drug crimes in the ’80s as well as for the adoption of a community policing model. He was promoted directly to chief, a position he filled for 11 years. Early in his career as chief, he oversaw one of the country’s most successful hostage rescue operations, saving 32 people.

 

Pauletta Chanco-Lowery, 58. Alameda resident and Oakland painter. Chanco-Lowery was a master of nonrepresentational painting, her paintings expressing the universal human need to reconcile the creative process with the exhortations of the spirit and always challenging viewers looking for easy answers. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s fine arts program, she exhibited her work through the Bay Area and the state and served as a visiting arts professor at UC Berkeley. She was a graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leaders Program, and her spirituality found expression both in her paintings and daily life.

 

Marian Diamond, 92. UC Berkeley professor emerita of Anatomy and a neuroscience pioneer. Diamond was a versatile thinker who published studies on such diverse topics as the power of positive thinking on immune health and differences between male and female rat brains. She is most famous for her studies on the preserved brain of Albert Einstein. Diamond pioneered the emerging field of neuroplasticity, finding that our intelligence isn’t immutably set by genetics but can change and grow, depending on how we use our brains.

 

Betty Dukes, 67. Antioch Walmart greeter and crusader for workplace rights. While working as a door greeter at Walmart, Dukes was outraged to find that female employees were paid less than their male counterparts and were consistently passed over for promotions. Dukes’ 2001 class-action lawsuit against the retail giant, filed on behalf of 1.5 million female workers, accused Walmart of systemic gender discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the case, but Dukes’ struggle helped to shine a light on a continuing problem in the U.S. workplace.

 

Michael Fuss, 72. Disability rights activist. A tireless advocate for the rights of disabled Americans, Fuss dedicated his life to ensuring that people with disabilities could live with the same liberty, dignity, and freedom as able people. As a student at UC Berkeley, Fuss helped found the school’s Disabled Students’ Program as well as the Center for Independent Living. He also helped Berkeley become the first city in the United States to install curb cuts, a graded ramp connecting sidewalks to streets and allowing wheelchair users greater independence in public life.

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