William Henry Crocker
He attended Phillips Academy, Andover and Yale University, where he was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi chapter). After the 1906 earthquake and fire had left the Crocker mansions in ruins, in 1907 he donated the Crocker family's 2.6-acre (11,000 m2) Nob Hill block for Grace Cathedral.
He was a member of the University of California Board of Regents for nearly thirty years and funded the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory's million-volt x-ray tube at the UC hospital and the "medical" Crocker cyclotron used for neutron therapy at the Berkeley.
Crocker also chaired the Panama-Pacific Exposition Committee and SE Community Chest, and was a key member of the committee that built the San Francisco Opera House and Veterans Building. Crocker was the founder of Crocker Middle School located in Hillsborough, California.
When much of the city of San Francisco was destroyed by the fire from the 1906 earthquake, William Crocker and his bank were major forces in financing reconstruction. His father, Charles Crocker (1822-1888), had been a builder of the Central Pacific Railroad.
Crocker's wife Ethel (née Sperry) was the leading patron of French Impressionist art in California at that time. In the 1890s, Crocker's wife, and California Impressionist Lucy Bacon, who studied in France under Pissarro, lent William Kingston Vickery, owner of the San Francisco art gallery Vickery, Atkins & Torrey, a number of French Impressionist paintings. Vickery then supervised a series of these loan exhibitions in San Francisco and introduced Impressionism to California in the form of paintings by Monet, Eugène Boudin, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas.
Mrs. Crocker also sponsored the studies of the Zoellner Quartet with César Thomson in Belgium. After six years in Europe, the quartet returned to the United States, and became a tireless force promoting classical music outside established centers and in Southern California.
In 1936, Crocker contributed $75,000 toward the building of a laboratory for Ernest O. Lawrence at the University of California, Berkeley, which was subsequently named "Crocker Radiation Laboratory" in his honor. This laboratory became home to the Berkeley 60" cyclotron. In the 1960s, parts of this cyclotron were moved to the University of California, Davis, where they served as the basis for the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory, which inherited its name from the original.
William and Ethel Crocker had four children: Charles, William Willard, Helen (Russell) and Ethel Mary (de Limur).
Death and legacy
His cousin, Aimee Crocker, was a Bohemian mystic who garnered publicity for her extravagant parties in New York, San Francisco and Paris, for her five husbands and many lovers, for her tattoos, and for living 10 years in the Far East, not as a tourist, but as if a native.
The public middle school in Hillsborough, California is named after him, Crocker Middle School.
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- The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Crocker to Crocket at politicalgraveyard.com
- Cypress Lawn image