This memorial page is dedicated to all who helped shape – and were influenced by – the great institution that is UC Santa Barbara.

To submit a memoriam, please email programs@alumni.ucsb.edu.

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Alumni

Elsie Whittaker, ’47, who served for many years as the co-chair of the Riviera Reunion, died Oct. 20 in Southern California. She was a member of the sorority that eventually evolved into the Pi Phis. Her major was music and she served on the Associated Students board as its secretary. She was known as the heart and soul of the Riviera Reunion, the reunion of alumni that attended college on the Riviera campus.

Irma (Goggia) Rennie '50, passed away on December 29, 2020, at the age of 91, in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. She was born and raised in Santa Barbara. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Junior High Education. She would later become a substitute teacher for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District. She was also a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She was married to Charles Rennie Jr., the love of her life for 59 years, who preceded her in death and was the loving mother to three children, Charles, Richard and Cathy. She will forever be missed.

Josephine Millett, ’52, died Aug. 27 in Santa Barbara. Her career included teaching, social work and administrative support. She retired as a computer programmer at UCSB. She served on the executive board of the UCSB Retirees Association, was a member of the Golden Arrow of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, and a charter member of the California Zeta Chapter of the Pi Beta Phi. She won numerous awards for her flower arrangements.

Joan Swanger, ’56, died Sept. 14 in Florida. She received her degree in early childhood education and taught kindergarten for more than three decades in private and public schools in Florida. She was a member of the Delta Zeta sorority.

Larry Clark DeSpain '63 passed away on August 1, 2021, peacefully at his home in San Francisco with his family at his side following a nine-year battle with a tumor gastrointestinal stromatolites (GIST). Larry was predeceased by his parents Alma DeSpain and father Robert DeSpain, brother Allen DeSpain and his first wife Faye Hobbs DeSpain. Larry attended UC Santa Barbara, graduating with a BA in History. He was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and served a term as chapter secretary. In 1974 he was transferred to San Francisco and it was here in the Bay Area he met his wife Phyllis. Larry was the chairperson of his 50th class reunion at UC Santa Barbara a reunion made notable by the class gift that was the first endowed scholarship of any graduating class. He is survived by his wife of the past 39 years Phyllis McElwee DeSpain, sons Kevin and Kent (Dawnell), and grandsons Hudson and Maxwell, numerous cousins in Missouri and his longtime feline companion Duey.

Judy McKee, ’66, died Sept. 2 in Santa Barbara. In the 1990s McKee created a successful Brentwood boutique, Alison. It featured American folk arts and crafts gathered from around the U.S. After Alison closed McKee worked at UCLA in their Slavic Languages and Literatures department. When she returned to Santa Barbara she worked at the UCSB Art Museum and was a longtime supporter of
the Women’s Fund.

Jack Fox, MA ’69, died in Rancho Mirage, Ca. Fox was the former executive director of the UC Santa Barbara Alumni Association from 1978-82. He started his career at UCSB in the Recreational Sports department and went on to become associate director of the Alumni Association in 1972. After retiring from UCSB he served as executive director of the Chico State Alumni Association. In 2019 he was honored by the Alumni Association as one of the “Legends of the Family Vacation Center” for his work in turning the Vacation Center into an ongoing, successful program of the Alumni Association.

Craig Steven Palonen, ’69, died July 24 in Santa Barbara. He had a long and successful career in real estate development. While pursuing a master’s degree in business from CSU Long Beach he discovered his passion for building and construction. He completed 23 residential and commercial projects in 24 years.

Walter R. Harper class of '69 passed away at the age of 101. He was a research scientist with Anacapa Sciences in Santa Barbara until his retirement in 1998. He fought in WWII with the British Army in the Tank Corps. He was a proud participant in the battle of El Alamein and attended the 50th Anniversary in Alexandria, Egypt.

Carl Sjovold, ’70, died Sept. 19 in Santa Barbara. He served four years in the U.S. Navy and worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years.

Betsy Anne (Nevitt '73) Robanser, born August 24, 1950 died on December 27, 2020. A beloved sister, Betsy Nevitt earned a BA in History with Honors and saw being a graduate of UCSB to be an honor in itself. She passed away in Bellingham, WA where she raised her 2 sons. Her passion for history, decency and compassion for her fellow man is the legacy of her education and family.

Thomas Lindsay Peters, ’73, died Sept. 5 in Laguna Beach. He spent his entire career in environmental planning at CH2M in Portland, Ore. He retired as the Senior Vice President of the Western Region for CH2M. He was a supporter of the Bren School and helped reform national organ transplant policies. His family has established the Tom Peters Memorial Fellowship Fund.

Doran Ross, MA ’75, died Sept. 16 in Los Angeles. Ross was a renowned museum curator of African and African-American art at the UCLA Fowler Museum. Ross helped develop the museum’s $22 million renovation in 1992 and became the first full time non-faculty director of the museum in 1996. He was a prolific scholar making more than 40 research trips to 18 different African countries to study art. His focus was Ghanian art and he helped edit a textbook on Ghanian textiles. During his career he was a lecturer at Santa Barbara City College, UC Berkeley and the California Institute for the Arts.

Suree Gould, ’76, died Nov. 4 in Santa Barbara. A theater arts major, she was active in children’s theater in Santa Barbara. She worked for many years in the Cottage Hospital residential treatment program and later earned her masters in psychology from Antioch University.

Darryl Richard Tate, ’76, died Sept. 1 in Ventura. He spent 33 years as a criminalist with the California Department of Justice at the Criminalistics Lab in Goleta. He started as a part-time lab technician while attending UCSB and retired as the Laboratory Director in 2009.

Jim Clendenen '76 was a winemaker and the owner of Au Bon Climat, a winery based in Santa Maria, California. Clendenen began his winemaking career working at Zaca Mesa Winery for three vintages. He was one of the most important vintners in Santa Barbara County history, an influential force on the international wine scene, and a legendary bon vivant known for crafting both world-class wines and long, epic lunches. He died in his sleep over the weekend. He was 68 years old. 

Penelope “Penn” Borden, PhD ’85, died Oct. 10 in Santa Barbara. She received her BA and MA in history from the University of Montana in Missoula. Lecturer Emeritus in Spanish and Portuguese Esperanza

Elizabeth “Liza” Mary Rindge-Peterson, ’88, died January 27 in Torrance, CA. She was a Publicist for CBS, Warner Bros., and Lifetime Entertainment, before becoming Vice-President of Entertainment Press and Publicity at NBC Universal. She also worked as an independent Consultant in the industry. In recent years she was Vice-President of Mesmer Properties, a company founded by her grandparents.

Jefferson ’88, PhD ‘99 died Aug. 9 in Monterey, Mexico. She became a lecturer in 1999 and held a number of administrative positions in the department until her retirement in 2017.

Mary MacRae, ’91, died in Santa Barbara on Oct. 26. MacRae was the office manager for Alumni Affairs and the manager of the Mosher Alumni House. She handled the hundreds of reservations for Mosher and oversaw the operations of the building. Previously she had been the Executive Director of Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara, which hosted numerous community theater productions. She had a long career in the Santa Barbara theater community after her graduation with a degree in English.

Jennifer Leigh Blankenbeckler, '98, died on August 9, 2021, at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. She graduated from UCSB in 1998 with a degree in Communication. She worked in the Sansum Clinic at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center in Santa Barbara as a medical assistant in the Palliative Care Department.

James Thomas Huebner, ’99, died Oct. 5 in Santa Barbara. He received his degree in American and Iberian studies. He lived on the Hollister Ranch for many years and was a well known local surfer.

Geoff Jewel, ’07, died Nov. 12 at Campus Point on the UCSB campus. He was the work desk manager in the Bren School and had worked at UCSB since 1996. He graduated with a degree in paleobotany and environmental studies. For many years he led trips for the UCSB Adventure program that involved climbing, ocean kayaking and canyoneering.

Chad James Thodos, ’21, died Nov. 5 in San Mateo, CA. He was a fourth year majoring in Film and Media Studies.

Jayden Quinn Lotz, ’21, died on Nov. 6 in Bakersfield. She was a senior majoring in economics and accounting.

Peter Aleman Jr., ’22, died Nov. 3 in Pleasant Hill, CA. He was a junior transfer student majoring in Political Science.

 

Faculty and Staff

Richard “Dick” Jensen, H’06, died Nov. 29 in Santa Barbara. He served in a number of administrative and consulting roles for the University of California. He came to UC Santa Barbara in 1964 as an assistant dean of students and eventually became the assistant chancellor for planning and analysis. He held that role until 1990 when he took the job of associate chancellor at UC Santa Cruz. He retired in 1999 but spent many years as a consultant for the Office of the President reviewing system budgets and finances. In 2005 he was asked by Chancellor Henry Yang to become interim executive director of the UCSB Alumni Association, a position he held for two years. He also did consulting work for the University of Illinois on their capital budget and planning. He was very active in community affairs and a prolific philanthropist. He served on the Board of Directors of the Community Environmental Council and later as a member of their President’s Council. He received his undergraduate degree from Washington State in 1959 and his master’s degree in economics from the University of Washington in 1964.

Professor Emeritus of Biology, Joseph Hurd Connell died Sept. 1 in Santa Barbara. Dr. Connell served on the UCSB faculty from 1957 to 1991. He received his doctorate from Glasgow University in Scotland and worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute before his move to UCSB. He received the Mercer Award in 1963 and twice received Guggenheim Fellowships for his research studying coral reefs and rainforests in Australia.

English professor emeritus Carol Braun Pasternak died Sept. 2 in Santa Barbara. She received her doctorate in English from UCLA in 1983 and joined the UCSB faculty in 1987. During her last two years at UCSB she served as Dean of Summer Sessions. She was a prolific writer and researcher in the area of Medieval literature and chaired the Medieval Studies department at UCSB.

Donald Barton Johnson, professor emeritus of Russian and Slavic Studies at UCSB, died Aug. 25 in Santa Barbara. He received his PhD from UCLA in 1966 and joined the faculty at UCSB that same year. His specialty was the writing of Vladimir Nabokov and Sasha Sokolov and he published a groundbreaking book in 1985 entitled “Worlds in Regression: Some Novels of Vladimir Nabokov.” He served twice as the president of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society.

Barrie Bergman, a longtime UC Santa Barbara Foundation trustee, died Sept. 11 in Santa Barbara. Bergman’s parents established a small record store in Chapel Hill, N.C. , the Record Bar, which Bergman built into the country’s second largest music chain with more than 180 stores in 30 states. The company was sold in 1989 and Bergman founded a second company Bare Escentuals which he grew into a national chain before selling it. Bergman received a number of honors from the music industry and retail organizations. He authored a book detailing his successful business practices: “Nice Guys Finish First: How to Succeed in Business and Life.” He was a member of the board of directors of the Santa Barbara County Bowl and a longtime supporter of UCSB Arts & Lectures.