They Made a Brighter Future
To usher out 2017, we’re bidding a final farewell to East Bay luminaries who made the future brighter.
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Saving Wild Open Spaces
A biologist and passionate outdoors-man, Alameda resident Rick Copeland, 63, loved to spend time in the field. He was never happier than when traipsing through the wilds of California. Although he loved hunting and fishing, he joked that they were just excuses to spend time outside.
Recognizing the need to preserve the wilderness for future outdoors enthusiasts, Copeland foucsed on conservation. In 1987, he helped found Wilderness Unlimited, a nonprofit hunting and fishing club that partnered with private property owners to allow hunters access to areas normally off-limits. It started with three hunting club ranches, but since then become the largest manager and provider of big game, birds, and fishing on the West Coast.
Serving as its CEO and president, Copeland shared the vision of pioneering conservationists like John Muir, holding that people craved a relationship with the wild, and it would only be through that relationship that they could be moved to care enough to save the wild open spaces. Through Wilderness Unlimited, Copeland promoted responsible wildlife use, sponsored groundbreaking outdoor education programs, and increased opportunities for people too often excluded from outdoor recreation. He founded the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program and helped create the Youth Outdoor Sports Fair and Lucy’s Pond.
Copeland’s enthusiasm for the wild extended beyond Wilderness Unlimited. He was a past president of the Outdoor Writer’s Association of California and an inductee to the California Outdoor Hall of Fame.
Ernesto “Ernie” P. Reyes Sr., 85. Alameda resident and manager of Ralph’s Market. Reyes served in the U.S. Navy and retired at the Naval Air Station in Alameda after 20 years of service, before working at the Alameda Housing Authority for 16 years. He and his wife, Ursula, owned and operated Ralph’s Market in Alameda for nearly 30 years. Reyes was a dedicated family man and nature lover; when not working, he liked to spend time with his grandkids or working in the garden.
T. Gary Rogers, 74. Oakland-based entrepreneur and former Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream executive. A passionate and creative businessman, Rogers was always excited for new challenges; before acquiring Dreyer’s in 1977, Rogers served terms as chairman of Safeway Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Rogers didn’t found the Dreyer’s company, but over 30 years as CEO, he was the one to build it into a global brand with a sterling reputation for quality ice cream and a close-knit employee culture.
Richard “Dick” Way Rutter, 69. Prominent Alameda architect. After leaving the Navy and graduating from Oakland’s Laney College with an associate’s degree in architectural and engineering technology, Rutter started a second career as an architect. He was the architect of record for the Westin St. Francis Hotel for almost 30 years, as well as for Macy’s Department Stores, and the Freidel Klussman Arch at the Powell Street cable-car turnaround, but he is also remembered for designing the tower lighting for the Golden Gate Bridge.
Carter Jay Stroud, 80. Former Alameda city attorney and writer. Stroud began his legal career in private practice, but eventually found an affinity for municipal law, first as deputy city attorney in San Leandro and later as city attorney of Alameda, a position he held from 1975 until 1989. A philosophical thinker, Stroud later parlayed his insights into human nature gleaned during legal practice into writing, publishing his thoughts on the state and future of American politics and civic life.
A Wunderkind of the Visual Arts
Cyrus James Tilton, 39, arrived in the Bay Area from Alaska in the ’90s, just as Oakland was at the cusp of a new artistic revolution boom. A passionate and dedicated artist who took his craft seriously, Tilton helped usher in the Oakland artistic renaissance and remained an active fixture in the community throughout the ’00s.
Despite his youth, Tilton bucked the stereotype of the wild, irritable artistic wunderkind, impressing colleagues and critics with his maturity and experience. He knew that art didn’t spring, fully formed, from the genius’ brain, and so he never shied away from the long hours and laborious work that it took to make a piece shine. He helped elevate the Oakland art scene from one characterized by amateur DIY projects to the professional-level shows that grabbed the attention of the greater art world. He participated in the First Friday Art Walk and Oakland Art Murmur 10 years ago and was among the first artists to have his work displayed at Davies Symphony Hall.
Even those unfamiliar with Tilton’s name will recognize his work from public sculptures throughout the Bay Area. One of his first projects upon arriving in the Bay Area was a giant baseball glove stationed above the left-field bleacher seats at AT&T Park. Tilton went on to create California sea lion sculptures for the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito and displays on sea lions for the Bay Area Discovery Museum.
A committed environmentalist, Tilton used his art to draw attention to issues like overpopulation and deforestation, and he was a vocal critic of the culture of over-consumption, which he saw as the main drive pushing the world toward ruin.
Tilton’s creativity extended beyond the visual arts. When away from the studio, he wrote music and played guitar and synthesizers for underground bands NED and Mwahaha. His passing leaves a void in the Bay Area art community that cannot be filled.