BEAR GradS Pioneers: Legendary Bequests
The Berkeley Endowments to Attract and Retain Graduate Students (BEAR GradS) program has laid the foundation for twenty $1M doctoral fellowship endowments to support future generations of Golden Bears. The dollar for dollar matching program pairs donor contributions of $500,000 with matching funds made possible through the generous bequests of Helene I. Cantor ’35, William V. Power, ’30, and Raymond H. Berner.
In tribute to these pioneering leaders whose investment in graduate education has made the BEAR GradS program possible, we offer the following biographical profiles with deepest gratitude for their inspiring, visionary support.
Helene I. Cantor ’35
Miss Helene Isabelle Cantor was born in 1914 and was raised in San Francisco with her mother, father, and older sister, Lorraine. She graduated from Girls High School in 1930 and completed her undergraduate degree in History at UC Berkeley in 1935.
Helene lived part of her life in Atherton, California, where she resided with her sister who has also co-owner of a local property that housed a delicatessen. Proceeds from the Cantor home and the Cantor’s commercial property interests were used to establish both undergraduate scholarship and graduate student fellowship funds at UC Berkeley. Helene passed away on September 3, 1999.
William V. Power ’30
Born on September 30, 1908, William Power grew up in San Francisco before attending and graduating from UC Berkeley as part of the Class of 1930. Upon graduating, Power and his classmate, Jim Dalziel, founded an insurance company, Power & Dalziel. Over the years they built it into one of the most successful brokerages on the West Coast, ultimately merging with Marsh & McLennan, the world’s largest insurance brokerage firm, in the 1970s.
After retiring from the insurance industry, Bill Power continued his work in fund raising, raising millions for charities as well as his alma mater. He established numerous funds and trusts to provide scholarship, fellowship, and research resources for students and faculty, such as the William V. Power Distinguished Professorship in Bioscience, the William Power Faculty Excellence Fund, and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. In 2003, he capped a lifetime of giving with a final $46.5 million bequest — one of the largest in Berkeley’s history.
At the time, Vice Chancellor for University Relations Don McQuade said, “Bill Power’s life and magnificent generosity exemplify how the opportunity that a Cal education creates for one student can come full circle and create life-changing opportunities for others.” William V. Power died on August 17, 2003, at the age of 94.
Raymond H. Berner
Born in November 1913, in Chicago, Illinois, Raymond Berner moved west after World War II and retired at an early age from a career as a quality control inspector in the aircraft/ aerospace industry. After his retirement, Ray and his wife, Margaret, moved to Nevada, where he spent more than 25 years as a resident of Douglas County and Carson City. Ray died March 12, 2004, at the age of 90.
Ray was always cognizant of the need for higher education, noting he had attained only a high school education. He established the Raymond H. Berner Educational Trust with his bequest. Ray’s wish was for each scholarship recipient not to “pay back” his generosity but to “pay it forward” by helping someone else achieve a higher education.
The BEAR GradS program would not have been possible without the generous support of Helene Cantor, William Power, and Raymond Berner. Their generous investment in Berkeley pays forward the benefits of a doctoral education to new generations of students and the positive impact on society that their work will yield.
— Fiona Doyle
Dean of the