Cover photo for Randall Milliken's Obituary
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1946 Randall 2018

Randall Milliken

September 19, 1946 — January 2, 2018

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.

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