Remembering Sheldon Messinger

On behalf of the Council of University of California Emeriti Associations (CUCEA), we wish to express our appreciation for the outstanding leadership of Professor Sheldon Messinger in university and emeriti affairs.

Professor Messenger was the Chair of CUCEA in 2001/2002 and Vice-Chair the previous year. In these positions of leadership he materially advanced the welfare of all emeriti. He contributed to the welfare of the entire university community by his leadership on issues of importance.

Professor Messinger's service to university emeriti was continuous and effective. He was Chair of the Berkeley Division's Committee on University Emeriti Relations, and as Chair of CUCEA he represented emerition the system-wide Faculty Welfare Committee and on the UC Retirement System Advisory Board. He was an active advocate of both emeriti and staff retirees on the system-wide Joint Benefits Committee.

Health-care was an issue about which Sheldon cared passionately. He was one of the primary architects of the Health Care Facilitator Program that provides assistance to all UC insured employees, active and retired. Judy Boyette, UC Vice-President of Human Resources and Benefits made these remarks about Sheldon's key role in establishing the program.

"I have thought so often in the past few weeks about Professor Messinger and how much he changed not only my life, but also the lives of countless people who didn't know him, and that he never knew. From the time we began to give birth to the idea of the health care facilitator project, Shelly never stopped giving of his time, his incredible knowledge, and above all, his contagious enthusiasm. Now we have a program in place at every U C location, and not a day goes by that I don't receive unsolicited notes of thanks from those being helped by the health care facilitators. While many people know about the formal ways that show his support of the program-by volunteering and being on the board- no one but I know how many times he sent personal emails or made phone calls to keep my spirits up and encourage me to continue my efforts to help others in what ways I could find."

In establishing the Retirement Center on the Berkeley campus, Professor Messinger played an important part. Professor Donald A. Riley has described Sheldon's influence on the creation of the Center.

"Several of us were involved in the actions that finally led to the establishment of the Center. In this group, Shelly was deservedly the most influential because of his clarity of vision, his decisiveness and his willingness to work hard for goals he clearly believed in. After the Center had been approved and established, Shelly was the first Chair of the Policy Board, the group that oversaw the development of the new Center. Again he was regularly and repeatedly farsighted, benign, and firm in setting the center on a successful path. The Center is today a highly successful organization that superbly serves the Berkeley campus and its retirees. Much of this success is directly attributable to Shelly. We will all miss him greatly."

During the period when Shelly was Chair of CUCEA he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the illness that ultimately took his life. Quite remarkably and courageously he continued to lead the organization with undiminished vigor and enthusiasm.

CUCEA salutes its fallen leader, and wishes to express its deep appreciation for Shelly's exemplary service to the organization and to the entire university community.

Larry Waldron (B) for CUCEA, January 2004