Memorial service to be held today for Barbara Mertes

Former vice chancellor was driving force to establish Las Positas College

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday for Barbara F. Mertes, the driving force to establish Las Positas College in Livermore, who died Sept. 4.She was 85 years old.

The service, which will be open to the public, will take place in the campus building named in her honor when it was dedicated in October 2010, the Barbara Fracisco Mertes Center for the Arts. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m.

Mrs. Mertes was born and grew up in Livermore, attending St. Michael Catholic School and graduating from Livermore High School. She earned Bachelors of Arts and doctorate degrees at UC Berkeley and a Master's degree from San Francisco State University.

She joined the Chabot College Faculty in 1963 to teach English and Rhetoric, becoming the Dean of Arts and Sciences in 1970, and then became the founding dean of what became Las Positas College in 1975. She served there for 11 years until moving to the district office as vice chancellor for Institutional Planning and Facilities development.

In that role, she wrote the master plans for both Las Positas and Chabot as well as writing competitive grant requests that resulted in more than $100 million outside of the regular budget allocations for the two campuses.

Although Las Positas had just four buildings, colleague Don Milanese said she established dance, theater and then reader's theater. She also encouraged the faculty to establish an Ultimate Frisbee team that became national champions.

Mrs. Mertes also reached out into the community to create partnerships between the colleges and businesses and public agencies to leverage resources and to improve the quality of instruction. For instance, she was instrumental in building a partnership between the college district, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Bay Area Rapid Transit District to train workers.

After retiring in 2000, she was elected to the college district board of trustees and served for 14 years until her retirement last year.

Mrs. Mertes along with her late husband, David, served in a variety of community activities after retiring from their respective jobs. He co-founded the college foundation, while they both served on its board. They also were active members of the ValleyCare Health System board. Mrs. Mertes also served on the Livermore Chamber of Commerce board for many years.

In 2003, Barbara and David were the joint recipients of the Livermore Chamber of Commerce's Community Service Award.

Mrs. Mertes is survived by her siblings and their spouses; Charles "Pat" Fracisco and Phyllis of Pleasanton, Jeanne Packard and Darrell of Pleasanton, Martha Kopp and Laurence of Walnut Creek and Thomas Fracisco and Betty of Mission Viejo; and 14 nieces and nephews.

The family prefers contributions in her memory to either the Las Positas College Foundation, 300 Campus Hill Drive, Livermore, 94551 or the ValleyCare Charitable Foundation, 1111 E. Stanley Blvd., Livermore, 94550.

Tim Hunt contributed to this story.

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