Former UC Berkeley postgraduate dies at 69

Former UC Berkeley postgraduate researcher and UC Extension instructor L. Jay Citron died in his home Dec. 26, three months short of his 70th birthday.

A longtime East Bay resident and a UC Berkeley alumnus, Citron’s primary focus was advancing health care while educating students in both local and global communities. He held double doctorate degrees in public health and psychology from UC Berkeley.

Citron served as a mental health policy and planning advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown during his first term and engaged in clinical work on HIV and AIDS, stress and illness, psychological issues for those with cancer, people with disabilities, management health care systems and community mental health.

As a instructor, Citron was especially passionate about providing an education for students from all social, economic and ethnic backgrounds, according to his life partner Jo Anne Frankfurt.

“He wanted to bring educational and clinical opportunities to people from all walks of life and give everyone a permanent tool to enhance their careers and their futures,” Frankfurt said.

Close friend Mike Nagler said Citron’s best qualities as a psychologist shone through in the way he interacted with people.

“When he was talking to you, there was no one else. And that really has a way of legitimizing whatever feelings you have,” Nagler said.

During his 35 years working in higher education, Citron taught not only at UC Berkeley Extension but also at many other institutions such as The Wright Institute, American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University and California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) at Alliant International University. In recent years, Citron taught and provided counseling for students at Laney College in Oakland.

“Of all the times I’ve taken statistics in my life, the only time I understood the concepts was when (Citron) sat down and tutored me. He made concepts understandable in a way other instructors could not,” said longtime friend Toby Dyner.

Citron is remembered by friends and family for his love for jazz, wine and sports. His adventurous spirit sent him on many hikes as well as trips around the world. Citron was a member of SFJAZZ and enjoyed wine tasting in both California and Italy.

Citron’s sister Jeri Citron said his love for traveling began when he was younger, when their family took trips to Michigan in the summertime and Florida in the wintertime. According to Jeri Citron, her brother took her around the Bay Area and to nice restaurants in Berkeley such as Cheeseboard and Chez Panisse. She also recalled a time that they were traveling together in Spain.

“We drove up the coast and got to border of France. We decided we might go to France, but (border patrol) didn’t let us take in the car,” Jeri Citron said.

Citron was known as the “pocket rocket” on his high school football team in his hometown of Chicago and went on to play for the University of Illinois football team as an undergraduate, according to Frankfurt. He retained his love for sports and was a fan of many Bay Area teams, such as the San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s and Cal Bears.

According to Frankfurt, Citron was a master magician and a member of The Magic Castle, a prestigious academy of the magical arts.

Frankfurt remembered Citron driving around the state in his vintage Austin Healey, which he bought on his 21st birthday. Jeri Citron said her brother was very proud of being the owner of the car, keeping it in good shape and condition.

“He was a well-rounded guy,” Frankfurst said. “He lived a full life.”

Contact Christine Lee at [email protected].