Davidson Library is a little lonelier this quarter after the passing of one of its most outspoken and quirky assistant librarians.
Peter Shapiro passed away Friday, Dec. 13, 2002 at the age of 57 after a long battle with heart disease. He spent his last day visiting his sister and extended family in Riverside.
Shapiro, a UCSB alumnus, was born March 21, 1945 and joined the university staff Nov. 25, 1974. He was a devoted employee and an outspoken advocate for workers’ rights on campus, co-workers said.
“It is extremely sad for us to lose our long-time colleague, Peter, who worked with our students, faculty, and fellow staff members for 27 years,” Chancellor Henry Yang said.
Shapiro was an early union activist and played a fundamental role in the initial movements of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, co-worker and library assistant Bill Timberman said. He will be remembered for his strong sense of social justice and activities within the community on behalf of the working class.
“The thing about Peter is that his politics were purely altruistic,” Timberman said. “I think it cost him a lot to always be the questioner at meetings, but he was willing to stand up for the staff even when others would not.”
Shapiro was well-respected among those who worked with him and spent time giving back to the community through organizations such as the Red Cross.
“He was really friendly and outspoken, and really active in the campus and the community. He was the type of person who cared about others before himself,” library assistant Juanita Hernandez said.
In addition to his work in the library, Shapiro was active in the campus Greenhouse and Garden Project for over 20 years as an adviser and motivator. Close friend and co-worker Kristen LaBonte said Shapiro was instrumental in saving the Greenhouse and Garden Project every time it was threatened by development.
“Peter was very generous and shared so much with everyone, whether it was giving flowers or help. Whenever I needed it, he was there to offer advice and friendship.”
A tree-planting and plot dedication will be held in Shapiro’s honor Sunday, Jan. 19 at the Greenhouse and Garden Project, located between Harder Stadium and Los Carneros Road. For many, the memorial will stand as a reminder of Shapiro’s life and good spirit.
“He was a strange marriage of garden nurturer and steadfast protector of the poor and downtrodden,” Timberman said. “He was always taking a risk, never for his own personal gain, and for that he truly did earn the respect of his co-workers.”