UC Berkeley News


Lily Misono Culver

06 September 2006

Lily Misono Culver - who served for two decades as administrative assistant for the campus's Subject A Program (progenitor to the College Writing Programs) - passed away unexpectedly on July 28, weak but without pain, one day after being diagnosed with cancer.

Lily Misono Culver

Born on Oct. 22, 1930, in Delano - the seventh of six sisters and two brothers - she spent her childhood at various locations in the San Joaquin Valley, where her immigrant parents worked primarily in farming. During World War II she was relocated, with her family, to a Japanese internment camp in Arkansas. After the war she returned to California, where she worked for many years, until 1968, as secretary to the vice president of Bakersfield College. After her marriage that year to Bill Culver, she moved to Sacramento, then Berkeley, where she served in Subject A until her retirement in 1993.

Culver lived her 75 years with great vitality. In her retirement she participated tirelessly as a volunteer in local arts and social-service programs, while fitting in tennis, weekly Scrabble groups, gardening, and a fanatical attention to recycling.

Steve Tollefson of College Writing Programs remembers her "obvious skills in budgets and personnel" and her passion for the arts. A Christo fan, Culver saw the artist's Running Fence, traveled to Southern California to see Umbrellas, and was in New York for The Gates in Central Park, Tollefson recalls. "And long before it was a fashionable venue, Lily was a volunteer for the Aurora Theater [based in Berkeley] - I suppose because she was familiar with some of the principals, since Subject A for many years shared space with the dramatic arts department."

As administrative assistant for Subject A, she "knew everything, knew everyone she needed to know on campus, befriended them all," Tollefson recalls. "She was a woman with standards in her choice of friends and acquaintances." Culver worked extensively with staff in the registrar's office, admissions, and Letters and Science and "was frugal with university money," he says. "I'm sure we were the very last program on campus to get a copier; well into my adulthood of teaching here, I ran off class handouts on a ditto machine, so I have reams of old material in purple ink. She never got a computer at home - didn't see the need, and was clearly too busy in her retirement to sit around bothering with one."

Culver is survived by four sisters, 11 nieces and nephews, her dog Wooky, and a multitude of friends. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Berkeley Yacht Club, 1 Seawall Dr. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be sent to the American Cancer Society, a local theater group, or a favorite charity.

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