Karl S. Pister Obituary, Death – Karl S. Pister, an engineering professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former UC Santa Cruz chancellor who devoted more than 70 years to the university, to higher education and to expanding educational opportunities for students from kindergarten to graduate school, died on Saturday, May 14, at his home in Walnut Creek. He was 96.
Pister had a remarkable career in higher education, starting as a structural engineering professor and dean of engineering at UC Berkeley and rising to UCSC chancellor and University of California vice president. Well in his 80s, he continued work that guided the direction of education and science, particularly in California.
Pister’s list of honors is vast. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional honor for a U.S. engineer, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For extraordinary contributions to the UC and higher education, he received the UC’s Presidential Medal, and at Berkeley, he was given the Clark Kerr Award, the Berkeley Medal and the Berkeley Citation.
The American Society for Engineering Education gave him its highest awards for contributions to engineering education and to advancing underrepresented minority students in engineering. He was twice selected as a Fulbright Scholar, and he won a raft of honors from national engineering societies.
Pister’s wife of 60 years, Rita, passed away in 2011. He is survived by their six children — Karl Francis Pister (Roger Renn) of Concord; Tracy Pearse Mulder of Stockton; Anita Pister-Khus of Concord; Jacinta Pister (Richard Whitmore) of Lafayette; Claire Brouwer (Kurt) of Waikoloa Village, Hawaii; and Kristofer Pister (Jennifer) of Orinda — 10 grandchildren, Sarena, Brendan (Lexy), Stark, Ann, Nathaniel, Kaiser (Mary Kate), Elijah, Marie, Veronika, and Luke, his great grandson, Maverick, his brother, Phil Pister of Bishop, Calif., and his dear friend and partner, Germaine LaBerge of Berkeley.
The family is planning a private funeral. A public memorial service will be held at a date to be announced later.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in his memory may be made to either the Karl S. and Rita Olsen Pister Graduate Fellowship Fund at Berkeley (UC Berkeley Foundation, 1995 University Ave., Suite 400, Berkeley, CA 94704-1070) or to the Rita Olsen Pister Scholarship Fund at UCSC (giving.ucsc.edu or UC Santa Cruz Foundation, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064).