‘Completely there for us’: Former UC Berkeley assistant dean Arthur Gill dies at 89

Arthur Gill, a former UC Berkeley assistant dean, died March 21 at the age of 89, leaving behind his two children and his partner, Marijke van Doorn Lawler.

Born in Haifa, Israel, Gill received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He later received his doctorate in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1959.

“He was first and foremost, the most disciplined, organized and systematic person any of us has ever met,” said his son Jonathan Gill in an obituary he wrote about his father. “I owe whatever good habits I have to him.”

After working in the research division of the Raytheon Company, a contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense, Gill delved into computer science and system theory at the UC Electronics Research Laboratory from 1957 to 1991. 

From 1958 to 1960, he served as a member of the Advanced Programming Development Division of aircraft parts manufacturer Bendix Aviation Corporation, focusing on the development of the G-15 computer, the company’s first general-purpose computer.

Gill was part of UC Berkeley’s electrical engineering and computer sciences faculty from 1959 until his retirement in 1991. 

On campus, he taught classes and oversaw research in communication theory, network synthesis and analysis, computer science and system theory. In 1981, Gill became assistant dean for undergraduate affairs in the College of Engineering.

“He loved being a dean — he loved student advising,” Jonathan Gill said. “People really loved him — students, colleagues, family. He had a huge amount of friends here and all around the world. He was very active up until the last years of his life.”

A committed father, Gill also devoted a lot of time to seeing his two children and his three grandchildren.

His daughter, Leori Gill, reflected on one of the only dishes he learned how to make — french toast — which he would serve her when she visited him as a young girl.

“He would visit if we we’re free, leave if we weren’t. And every Thursday. And every Friday. On weekends, he would invite us out, but only if we wanted to,” Jonathan Gill said in the obituary. “He was completely there for us, with no strings attached. We ate pizza at the same place for 18 years, through two different wives!”

A notable passion of Gill’s was traveling, as he embarked on a trip three to four times per year for 40 years, including to Antarctica at age 80. One of Jonathan Gill’s fondest memories with his father is their 2007 trip to Paris, where they saw Versailles and went to dinners.

“No one I have ever heard of was more successful in living life on its own terms,” Jonathan Gill said in the obituary. “That was true right up to the end.”

Contact Amanda McNamara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @amandamcnamara_uc.