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February 15, 1999

UCSC founding assistant chancellor dies at age 85

As head of University Relations, he helped secure gifts that launched UCSC's first colleges

By Jim Burns

Gurden Mooser, whose decades-long association with UCSC included 13 years as the founding head of the University Relations Office, died on Friday, February 5, in his Santa Cruz home after a lengthy illness. He was 85.

In 1965, the year UCSC welcomed its first class of students, founding chancellor Dean McHenry appointed Mooser to the position of assistant chancellor for University Relations. By the time Mooser retired in 1978, he had helped the campus attract a series of major gifts that established UCSC's college system and provided essential private support to many other emerging academic and administrative programs.

As part of that effort, Mooser formed the UC Santa Cruz Foundation in 1974 and served as the foundation's first executive secretary. Twenty years later, he was appointed a trustee of the foundation. In recent years, he served as cochair of the campaign raising gifts for the Marine Discovery Center, currently under construction at UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory.

"Rarely have I encountered such a wonderful gentleman," observed Chancellor Greenwood. "Gurden embodied extraordinary integrity, and as a dedicated friend of UCSC, he worked on our behalf up to the day he died. UC Santa Cruz has lost a visionary founder and loyal friend. The results of his dedicated effort, however, will serve generations of Californians."

To honor his many years of support and commitment to the foundation, Mooser was named the foundation's first emeritus trustee last year.

In addition to support of the campus's marine sciences program, he and his wife Mary Kate were also benefactors of UCSC's library and arts programs on campus.

Mooser's generosity wasn't limited to UC Santa Cruz causes. He was a founding member of the Community Foundation of Greater Santa Cruz County (honorary trustee at the time of his death) and a long-time board member at Dominican Hospital. In service to Santa Cruz County, Mooser was appointed chair of the Grand Jury and, following the floods of 1982, filled the position of vice chair of disaster relief.

Mooser graduated from UC Berkeley in 1935 with a bachelor's degree in physics. He served with the U.S. Navy in World War II (Pacific Theater) and retired as a commander. Before coming to UCSC, he was a senior vice president for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency.

In addition to his wife, Mary Kate, Gurden is survived by a daughter, Ashley Mooser of New York City; sons Michael Mooser of Eugene, Oregon, Erik Hellenthal of Roseburg, Oregon, Leif and Gard Hellenthal of Cazadero, California, Stephen Mooser of New Haven, Connecticut, and Cort Hellenthal of Angel's Camp, California; three daughters-in-law; and nine grandchildren.

A private service is planned for Wednesday, February 17. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Mooser's name be made to the UCSC Foundation for the Marine Discovery Center; Dominican Hospital Foundation; or the Community Foundation of Greater Santa Cruz County.

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