05 December 2014

Jerry Arthur Sulliger (1 Nov. 1944 – 25 Nov. 2014)


Jerry Sulliger volunteering at BAHA’s Julia Morgan House Tour, 2 May 2010 (photo: Daniella Thompson)

It is with deep sorrow that we report the death of BAHA board member Jerry Sulliger, who passed away after a prolonged illness on Tuesday, 25 November 2014. He had been a BAHA member since 1998 and a director since 2004.

It is hard to overestimate the magnitude of Jerry’s behind-the-scenes contributions to BAHA. The important digital historic databases he created form the backbone of our daily research work. He donated numerous books and photographs, carried out seminal research work, and wrote articles on topics that would have stumped most other writers. In addition, Jerry was the historians’ historian—the person to whom we and all historians turned whenever we needed to separate fact from fiction.

Jerry began the monumental task of scanning the fragile Donogh real estate files of all Berkeley addresses, completing many streets before turning the task over to others. The file had special meaning to Jerry, as his mother had worked for Ormsby Donogh, and he was pleased to find a letter written by her in one of the folders.

Jerry was born in Los Angeles to Arthur and Gladys Sulliger. Both his father and his grandfather were engineers and Cal graduates (the grandfather graduated in 1900, the father in 1938). Jerry attended Bullard High School in Fresno, where he was a member of the California Scholarship Federation and of the student council.

He came to Berkeley as a UC student in the 1960s, majoring in Latin American Studies and History. Here he remained for the rest of his life, living on the Southside, in close proximity to the sites where the tumultuous events of the Free Speech Movement and the People’s Park protests took place.

For many years, Jerry managed the Shattuck Hotel, becoming an expert on its history. This interest grew to encompass all of Berkeley’s history, and as Jerry’s collections grew, so did his expertise. We are all the beneficiaries of his monumental work.

Rest in peace, Jerry. We miss you terribly.