‘Pillar of the neighborhood’: UC Berkeley alumna, former administrator Anita Eblé dies at 89

Diane Freiheit/Courtesy

Anita Eblé, UC Berkeley alumna and former administrator, died in her home Oct. 17 at the age of 89.

Eblé graduated from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business in 1977 with a Master of Business Administration degree, according to Laura Counts, senior marketing and communications manager at Haas. Her university career continued for 30 years through administrative positions in both the UC Berkeley School of Law and the campus department of history, later working as the assistant vice president with the UC Office of the President, or UCOP.

Judy Coy, a former colleague of Eblé’s at the UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships office and the UCOP, worked for Eblé for most of her 30-year career at UC Berkeley until Eblé retired.

“Anita was one of these people that really strive for excellence in every project she undertook. She was very much above board and dealt straightforward with people,” Coy said. “She was an extremely important person to me, professionally, and mentor in every step of the way.”

Eblé’s influence touched different spheres of the East Bay community.

Joanne Irwin met Eblé when they were both lectors at Saint Augustine Catholic Church in Oakland. They would switch off Saturday shifts, adjusting schedules as they went.

“We were together in the small space of a sharing community that continued on for several years,” Irwin said. “She could have run General Motors — she was very organized.”

Eblé was also known for being a “pillar of the neighborhood,” according to Nick Pappas, owner of Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue.

Pappas said he saw her almost every day for the past 40-50 years, as she lived near his store and made frequent visits for groceries.

“She knew the merchants on the block,” Pappas said. “It was a pleasure seeing her all the time. She was extremely enthusiastic about my store.”

Diane Freiheit, Eblé’s niece, said Eblé came from an Italian immigrant family with three daughters. Growing up in the Great Depression, her father encouraged his daughters to go to college. Eblé graduated with highest honors from Duquesne University before studying and working at UC Berkeley.

According to Freiheit, Eblé was not only a big presence on campus, but also in her daily life.

“She had this outlook on life that was inclusive, she was completely accepting of everyone,” Freiheit said. “Her capacity to meet challenges was inspiring to me because she used to say ‘I am undaunted.’ She was accepting of and met challenges with grace and tenacity and fortitude — and was a great problem solver. When she couldn’t do something she would say ‘C’est la vie’ or ‘That’s life.’ ”

Eblé is survived by her sister, Angela Scurci; her brother-in-law, Edward Jew; her nieces and nephews, Freiheit, Mark Scurci, Adrienne Lesnett, Edward Jew, III and Elaine MacLellan; and several grandnieces, according to Berkeleyside.

Contact Olivia Buccieri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @obuccieri_dc‏.