In Memoriam

Ann Chandler '63
She was loved for her big heart and her indomitable spirit.

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Ann Chandler '63 brought a focused passion to everything she did—even family games. Her "benevolent mercilessness" at the Scrabble board was the stuff of legend among friends and relatives, according to her niece Amelia Cohen-Levy, who preferred to be a spectator rather than take on her formidable aunt. Chandler summoned the same spirit and good humor to her battle with Parkinson's—even founding a group of singers with the disease, who called themselves the Tremolos—before her death on Nov. 17, at the age of 71. After graduating from UNH, Chandler moved to California with her then-husband Richard Fish and eventually settled in Berkeley, where they raised sons David and Michael. She became an activist for a number of causes, from the Berkeley Citizens Action Group to the National Women's Political Caucus. After earning a master's in public health from Cal State Hayward in 1980, she worked as a microbiologist dedicated to improving the lives of the elderly and people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. For 25 years, she served as director of the Public Health Laboratory of Alameda County and served on the Berkeley City Council for eight years.

The move to California ignited Chandler's "latent sense of justice," recalls her sister, Nada Chandler. Three times she was arrested for acts of civil disobedience: speaking out against nuclear weapons, protesting the University of California's investment policy in South Africa, and demonstrating against federal budget cuts for AIDS funding. A fourth arrest, for chaining herself to a fence to protest state budget cuts for AIDS funding, landed her in jail for seven hours.

Chandler also loved to take road trips with Nada to see the California desert blooming in spring, belting out rock 'n' roll classics and folk songs along the way. But despite her years in California, Chandler, who was born and raised in Maine, never forgot her New England heritage and was a stickler for what she considered proper pronunciation. She was an "auhnt" to her neices, not an "ant," Cohen-Levy recalls. "On this she was very clear."

Chandler always made a spare bedroom available for friends and family. Nada lived there for a year when she was working on a project in Berkeley, attending meetings and rallies with her sister. Chandler's niece Phyllis Hoffman stayed for a while when she was in the process of moving. And Cohen-Levy once slept on the living room floor for three months when the spare bedroom was already occupied.

Never judgmental, Chandler listened patiently during those months as Cohen-Levy grappled with indecision about boyfriends and college. And that's what she remembers most about her aunt—that she was always ready to listen, no matter what the problem. "She was," says Cohen-Levy, "the one great constant in my life."

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