‹ Return to Current Obituaries

Order Flowers now for guaranteed delivery before Randall's visitation.

Randall Milliken

Randy Milliken died January 2, 2018 at his home in Davis CA under the care of Kaiser hospice. He was 71 years old. Randy was born in Oakland in 1946 to Ted Milliken and Barbara Blesse. He grew up familiar with the East Bay hills near his home, and the Oakland Camp, Feather River area near Quincy  CA where he spent many summer vacations. One of Randy's favorite summer memories was learning to fly fish for trout with his uncle and his cousin, Bob Blesse.

Randy was a slow reader until the end of second grade when his class at John Swett School visited a library. He saw a book about cavemen illustrated with only a few lithographs, and felt forced to learn to read in order to understand that book. In 1954, his family--mom Barbara, step-dad Bill Silsley, Randy, and younger brother Billy--moved from Oakland to Pleasant Hill CA.

He always loved school. Most subjects interested him, and he formed many friendships. He graduated from Pleasant Hill High School in 1964 and went off to UC Davis. Randy had planned to study Forestry, but disliked the timber-harvesting focus of that program. He changed to History, and turned toward social and political activism. In summer 1966 he went to Chicago to work on Martin Luther King's community organizing project.

He met his future wife Patricia Hassebrock in Davis in summer 1967. They transferred to UC Berkeley together. Randy dropped out of school to work on Vietnam War protest. At first he joined violent anti-government protests, then developed a more hippie-pacifist approach. Patricia gave birth to their daughter Dawn Blesse Milliken in 1970. Randy returned to UC Berkeley in 1971, studied Plant Ecology, and obtained a B.S. degree in 1973. He had no vision of any future profession at that time, but was soon to discover his life's work.

In 1974, while working as a gardener for friend Plum Haet in Orinda CA, Randy began studying Spanish-contact Indians of Contra Costa County, using untapped information gathered from microfilm of ecclesiastical records housed at St. Mary's College. This early work led him to a lifetime of research on the ethnohistory and ethnogeography of Native groups throughout central California. His passion for his subject, quick conceptual mind, attention to detail, capacity for hard work, and pleasure in problem-solving with colleagues marked his forty year career.

Randy received his M.A. in Cultural Resource Management from Sonoma State University in 1983 and Ph.D. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley in 1991. He moved to Davis in 1994 to join Far Western Anthropological Research Group. His book 'A Time of LIttle Choice: The Disintegration of Tribal Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area 1769-1810' was published in 1995. As he approached retirement, Randy contributed his database and papers to be made available at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Randy is survived by wife Dorine Waidtlow, mother Barbara Skelly of Walnut Creek CA, and daughter Dawn, granddaughter Geneva, and great-grandchildren Aubrey age 7 and Dominic age 5, all of Woodland CA. He is also survived by brothers Billy Silsley and Brad Milliken, and by sisters Lizanne Reseigh and Shannan Keefauver. He was Uncle Randy to nephews Willie, Logan, Cody, Mike and Tim, and to nieces Rachelle, Kimber and Kelly.

Donations in Randall's name may be directed to the Bancroft Library or the Sierra Club.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Randall Milliken, please visit our flower store.


I met Randy at the 1975 Forestry Camp in Quincy where he was a TA and I was a Forestry student. He wasn't riding in cars at that time so had walked all the way there from Oakland and back. He was a friend for the following couple of years until I moved away from Berkeley and lost contact with him. I remember Randy as always passionate, intense, humble, and very curious about life, natural history, and the life of the native people of the Bay Area. Over the years I've tried to reconnect but could not find him. It is with sadness that I discovered today that Randy has passed on to his next adventure and is no longer sharing his unique wonderful light with us on this earth.

Wanda Richberger Perschnick Sep 22 2018 12:00 AM

I worked with Randy at the Bancroft Library while I was an undergrad at Cal, and then again while I was working at the Anthropological Studies Center at Sonoma State as a graduate student. He was always very curious and would always ask the most interesting questions. He helped shape research interests of mine and I was always curious about his. He will be missed.

Jane (Caputo) Allen Jul 18 2018 12:00 AM

Cousin Randy and I spent more than ten years sharing our genealogical research with one another. He was such a great researcher. He was also very generous and helpful in sharing his ideas and information. I enjoyed his wit, humor and curiosity. It was a pleasure knowing such a terrific person.

Anette Rardin Mar 19 2018 12:00 AM

RIP Randy.

Denise MAY (Hansen) Feb 11 2018 12:00 AM

He generously shared rare research information with me when called him out of the blue thirty years ago. I was just out of graduate school and a novice. I will never forget his kindness.

Lissa McKee Jan 28 2018 12:00 AM

May his name be a blessing. Rest in peace, Randall. You did a wonderful job.

Diane Gifford-Gonzalez Jan 27 2018 12:00 AM

I only met Randy once in person, many years back, at a conference in Emeryville regarding the Emeryville shell mound. But I had read much of his work about the shell mounds and thought of him as a quintessential researcher. I would trust his results implicitly. I was thrilled to be seated next to him at the conference speaker's table, although he was very quiet. Then he turned to me and asked me a question about the native people or the variety found among the shell mounds, and I couldn't answer it well. I was thoroughly humbled. I can't remember the question now, but he taught me that there's always more to learn! His skills and his work ethic as a researcher will be missed, and surely that is only one segment of his full life. My sincere condolences to his extended family.

Sandy Sher Jan 24 2018 12:00 AM

I saw a very kind man humbly kneel before a ninety year old woman so that he could put stockings over her blackened, badly swollen ankles. Carl Schmid

Carl Schmid Jan 21 2018 12:00 AM