Linda Finch Hicks, administrative manager in the history department, died Sunday, Nov. 1 at Alta Bates Hospital of pancreatic cancer. She was 55.
The daughter of a diplomat, Finch Hicks grew up in Japan and Korea and began her career at Berkeley in 1987, as an administrative assistant at the Center for Korean Studies, part of the Institute for East Asian Studies. A decade later, in 1997, she became a management services officer — first in the Department of Philosophy for seven years and then in the history department, starting in 2004.
“Linda really loved working on campus with all of its ups and down, and tried to encourage the people she managed to develop themselves,” says Dianne Walker, a longtime friend of Finch Hicks and project engineer in the Office of the CIO. “She had a real gift and a passion for helping her staff and others on campus find work they loved. She looked out for the institution.”
“She was the fulcrum of the entire life of our department,” says Mary Elizabeth Berry, chair of the history department. Berry describes Finch Hicks as “a very joyful human being” who set a “transformative tone” for the department by creating “a common attitude of respect and optimism.”
Frances Katsuura, director of administration in the psychology department, and a friend of Finch Hicks for 13 years, recalls that “Linda munificently lent me and many others at the university the wisdom of her experience. Even through this last challenging phase of life, she was smart and funny and shared her enthusiasm with everyone.”
Finch Hicks was a mentor to Gail Ganino, administrative manager for the French and comparative literature departments, who calls her friend “a grounded, incredibly intelligent, lovely woman who could always find the humor in things.”
Finch Hicks was active at Berkeley’s Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and an ardent reader. She loved cooking, yoga, and doing Sudoku. She walked most mornings with friends at University Terrace, where she lived with her family.
Finch Hicks was also a designer and seamstress, who once made a wedding dress for a graduate student, Ganino recalls. Last year, she was staff winner of the campus’s Lili Fabilli and Eric Hoffer Essay contest.
Hicks is survived by her husband, Kevin Hicks; her 17-year-old daughter, Suzie; her mother, Suzanne, of Bluemont, Va; and her sisters, Catherine of Martha’s Vineyard, and Anna, of Byfield, Mass.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10, at St. Marks Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. The family plans to establish a memorial fund to help pay for Suzie Hicks’s college expenses. For details on how to make contributions, contact Dianne Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 643-0290.