MARILYN REED LUCIA, MD '56, Resident Alumna, Emerita Faculty

(October 8, 1927 – November 18, 2016)

“It’s what you do with your child and not what you do for your child that matters.” This was the advice Dr. Marilyn Lucia often gave to new mothers. At multi-generational family gatherings, she would look around the room and choose to sit at the children’s table because “their ideas and conversation are interesting.” Her vision of child care embraced learning about children in order to continually improve their care and nurturing. Dr. Lucia’s experience as a working mother was her inspiration to champion a child care center for professional women where they worked. 

Her crusade began soon after completion of her residency in psychiatry with the birth of her third and fourth children, Salvatore Pablo Lucia, Jr. and Darryl Reed Lucia.  While they were in preschool, she began her residencies in child psychiatry at Mount Zion Hospital and community psychiatry (with Portia Hume, MD).   Marilyn was no stranger to shuffling family obligations with professional aspirations. Her first child, Elizabeth Reed Dickie (Aden) was born while she was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Her second child, Walter Murray Dickie III, was born prior to starting medical school at UCSF and was five years old when she graduated in 1956.   She intimately and viscerally understood the pressures and conflicts of balancing cultural norms, professional aspirations and personal responsibilities.

She acquired her drive and ambition from the remarkable women role models of her New England family.  Her maternal grandmother was the checker champion of Boston.  Her mother, Minnie Reed Matys was among the first women to pass the Massachusetts bar.  Marilyn, herself, wanted to be a physician from an early age.  Her vision and dream of being a doctor never wavered despite numerous setbacks, including being turned away from Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia because she did not pass the physical examination a week before classes started. Why did she fail her exam? She was nine months pregnant, a condition considered incompatible with being a medical student. After Walter’s birth, she was informally accepted into UCLA’s first medical school class only to be dropped at the last minute. She reapplied and the following year she began her first year at UCLA’s medical school. With daughter Betsy in tow, she commuted between Berkeley and Los Angeles for one semester when, miraculously, she was offered a place at UCSF.  

After medical school, she interned at Stanford and then completed her residency in psychiatry at UCSF’s Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute where she has been a member of the clinical faculty since 1982. As her professional training and personal life coalesced, her interest in creating a child care study center took shape. Dr. Lucia applied the same tenacity and determination that made her a physician to the goal of creating a child care center for the UCSF campus. She created a fledgling center with Mary Lane, EdD (Founder, Cross Cultural Family Center) and at the YMCA. Finally, with Chancellor Willard Fleming’s encouragement, she went to Sacramento and met with state legislators. Her efforts resulted in the creation and passage of Assembly Bill #687 that led to the development of the State-wide University of California Child Care System. 

During the early part of her professional career, she taught both at UCSF and at San Francisco State College. She was the Director of Children’s Psychiatric Services at Contra Costa Hospital for many years and was a consultant to the Cranio-Facial Center at UCSF and the Northern California Diagnostic School for Neurologically Handicapped Children.  She was a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Member of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry.  Throughout her career until the end of 2015, Dr. Lucia maintained an active clinical practice.   

Dr. Lucia, died suddenly, unexpectedly and peacefully on November 18, 2016.  She was a wife, mother, physician, pioneer and advocate. Her vision, commitment and energy have left an indelible imprint on the UC system and the lives of tens of thousands of children and their families.  

A plaque in her dining room reads: 
“All our dreams can come true
If we have the courage to pursue them.”

We will miss her.