Frederick J. Lupke, III, known to his many Berkeley friends as Fred, died Thursday, Sept. 25, as a result of injuries he received when he was struck by a car on Ashby Avenue near the South Berkeley Senior Center.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, on June 18, 1945, and a graduate of Rochester High School in Rochester, Mich., he began his studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a chemistry major, but was drafted and served in the US Army Signal Corps in Korea for two years.
When he returned to the University of Michigan in 1970, he decided to study linguistics, was accepted for doctoral studies under Professor George Lakoff (now at the University of California Berkeley) and received a Master’s degree.
In late 1973, he was diagnosed with a spinal tumor. Following surgery, he completed his doctoral course work, but after his medical condition got worse, he decided to give up his studies and look for an environment more amenable to his long-term prognosis. In 1986 he found a solution to his situation when his close friend, Richard Rhodes, was offered a position at the
University of California, Berkeley.
Fred had spent summers in Berkeley as a young child with his grandmother, who lived on Spruce Street. In August of 1986 Fred and Richard moved together into a faculty apartment where the current Foothill dormitory complex is now located.
The following summer, when Richard’s family came to join him in California, Fred moved first to an inaccessible apartment. His condition continued to deteriorate until he became permanently wheelchair-bound, so he found an affordable accessible apartment on Shafter Avenue, just over the Oakland border, where he lived at the time of his death.
After a period of adjustment to life in a wheelchair, he became progressively more involved with community affairs, especially in Berkeley, with which he felt a special affinity.
Long-time Berkeley activist Nancy Carleton, campaign manager for the parks measures on the Berkeley ballot in 2000, and coordinator of the joint campaign for libraries, parks, and water pools in that same election, said Monday that “Fred possessed the rare ability to reach across Berkeley’s political lines to elicit support for the basics of a healthy community—pools, parks, libraries, schools, accessibility. I believe he was able to accomplish so much because he always saw you as a person first, not as a political category.”
As a wheelchair user himself, Fred served disabled citizens by both political and practical activities. He was often seen in public places with his tape measure out, measuring doorways for wheelchair accessibility.
But Fred went beyond his personal situation to think of Berkeley’s general welfare. He worked for the preservation of the warm water pool at Berkeley High School, which he used to maintain his own health, and in the process became an effective advocate for all public school funding—even though he was not a parent himself. In the period preceding the invasion of Iraq, he was an active participant in anti-war protests.
As a well-educated man of scholarly temperament, Fred loved the Berkeley Public Library. He kept a careful eye on its recent renovation, and worried about proposed downtown buildings which he feared might encroach on it. This concern led him to become a diligent researcher and active participant in Berkeley’s ongoing discussion about the appropriate relationship between the urban landscape and affordable housing needs.
He was a great reader, and a strong supporter of the free press in general and the Berkeley Daily Planet in particular. When the original Planet went out of business, he took a vigorous role in the process which eventually resulted in its resurrection under new ownership.
Fred hated to miss a meeting or a party, which is probably why he viewed the calendar as the most important part of a community paper. To make sure that the new Planet had a calendar which met his exacting standards, he volunteered to work on gathering information and proofreading, putting in as many hours as his health permitted twice a week until his death.
Fred was the son of the late Frederick J. and Marian W. Lupke. He is survived by his sister, Alice Strang of Charlottesville, Va., her husband, Harold, a niece, Dana Hartling, and a nephew, John Strang. Other survivors include beloved long-time friends, Richard and Mary Rhodes of Castro Valley, and their three children, Betsy, Russell, and Edwin, and many others.
Funeral services will be Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 3 p.m. at the Sunset View Cemetery at Fairmount and Colusa in Kensington. Directions can be found at www.sunsetviewcemetery.com. The gravesite was chosen to be accessible, according to family friend Rich Rhodes, who said that people in wheelchairs should arrive early to get to the gravesite. Berkeley friends are hoping to organize a community memorial to be held later this fall at a time and place to be announced.
In memory of Fred, his family suggests contributions to the following nonprofit groups:
BPFP/United Pool Council Fund
c/o Karen Davis
2329 Carleton St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
Center for Independent Living
2539 Telegraph Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
Earmark in lower left corner: In memory of Fred Lupke