Peter Berck, renowned environmental economist, beloved teacher

Peter Berck. Photo: Courtesy family

Peter Berck was born on April 26, 1950, and died on Aug.10, 2018, after a brave fight with cancer.

Peter grew up in New York, attended UC Berkeley, and earned a PhD in economics from MIT. Returning to Berkeley, he spent his academic career of nearly 42 years in UC Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, College of Natural Resources.

Peter was one of the world’s foremost environmental economists; he did practical research on farming, forests, fisheries, pollution, energy and climate. More importantly, he was a beloved teacher and mentor to generations of students and colleagues.

During his final weeks, close to a thousand of them wrote tributes about him for his open door policy, good advice, hearty laugh, and genuine caring.

A citizen of the world, Peter became an honorary Swede during two sabbatical years; promoted agricultural research partnerships with Israel; climbed the Great Wall with Chinese colleagues; and bubbled with excitement at seeing African wildlife as part of conservation research.

Peter loved everything outdoors and was a Boy Scout leader. A “Peter Berck Campership Fund” has been set up by the Mount Diablo-Silverado Council of Scouting BSA, 800 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. Peter also was active in the Jewish community.

He is survived by his wife Cyndi, sons David (and Anna) and Joseph, daughter Michelle, four grandchildren, brother Alan (and Maggie), cousin Victor and the Parker/Frisch clan, parents-in-law William and Arline Spindell, nieces and nephews, and countless friends. We will always love and miss him.

Peter is buried in Gan Shalom (Garden of Peace) Cemetery in Briones. On Sunday, Sept. 23, 2–5 p.m., a service and memorial will be held at Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Road, Lafayette.