Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Remembering Margot Lucoff, Part III

(Continued from January 1st posts)

Margot Lucoff received her B.A. in Humanities and Classic Languages at U.C. Berkeley in 1976, and in 1979 earned an M. Litt. in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Durham, England, and then returned to Berkeley to complete a MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) in 1980. She worked as a cataloging librarian at the Berkeley Public Library (BPL) from 1984 until her death in July 2004.

Margot Lucoff, April 2004 (shown here holding
the child of
an acquaintance). Photo: Colleen Fawley.

In continuing this tribute to Margot, I'd like to pass along some stories about Margot shared by her fellow staff members at BPL:

I first met Margot walking around old Berkeley Public Library. We were both wearing long flowery dresses and Birkenstocks with socks and both had our long hair "styled" the same way. We pointed at each other and said, "Hey, I know we're going to be friends." - N. N.

About 10 years ago Margot was grieving the loss of her mother. She felt the pain of her loss very intensely. She came up with a very creative idea for dealing with her pain. she asked others to share it. She parceled out 12 months and asked 12 friends to each accept one month of her grieving period... I volunteered to become Margot's September support for as many Septembers as she might need the support... - J. E.

I vividly remember when we were at [the old Berkeley Public Library] and Reference got int the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Margot had wanted it all her life, and arranged to buy the old set from the Friends [Friends of the Library]. She was dizzy for days with the glory of it, and would answer the phone: "Hello, this is Margot, I own the OED!" - S. H.

BPL compiled a binder/album in which the library staff have contributed memories, stories, or poems, entitled: "Hello, Sunshine: Memories of Margot."[1]

Margot's synagogue, Netivot Shalom, at 1316 University in Berkeley, also has a commemorative project. The last year or so of her life, Margot was in a quilt group of about six or seven women that made quilts on Jewish themes. The group had just started a project when she died, and they turned it into a memorial to her, putting on names of her family members, her e-mail address, and the message from her answering machine and other things that reminded them of Margot. It is currently hanging in the synagogue library. [2]

The number and quality of tributes to Margot suggest the number of lives she touched in a special way. She was a true ray of sunshine, as the so-named "Hello Sunshine" book of memories at BPL suggests: positive, supportive, academic, enthusiastic, and in awe of life and learning--a role model to many.

[1] Berkely Public Library Staff News, Summer 2004.
[2] Diane Berbaum, Netivot Shalom


  1. Thanks Chery for another installment on Margot's story.

    When you mentioned the memorial booklet entitled "Hello, Sunshine: Memories of Margot" it made me think of a similar item I own. It is for a co-worker from one of my former law firms who suffered from depression and died unexpectedly.

    The booklet is filled with her "isms" - little sayings, jokes, etc. Whenever I need a lift, I take it out, read a bit and then I remember Alex.

    Also, as I've said before, while pure genealogists or family historians may scoff at a post about a friend rather than family, I like that you've included Margot. Obviously she had a great impact on you and she is one of your memories.

  2. Hi Thomas - Thanks, I agree with you. As we write about the history and social influences of our family and ancestors, are we not to include ourselves, too? As I mentioned in a previous post, friends are family who have been invited in by the heart. And, it makes sense to record what we know before it is forgotten to time (like the problem regarding our ancestors...)

  3. I want to thank Chery for this very nice piece about my sister

    Bill Lucoff

  4. Bill,

    Long time, no see! I've tried to contact you several times, but did not have a proper e-mail. Thank you for commenting. Margot changed my world in many ways, and it was quite a shock to hear of her passing. I will miss her, always, but part of her lives on in what she taught me with her friendship.