Bev Crair’s mother was her best friend.
“My mother, ” said Crair, “taught me to live a full and honest life.”
Crair encounters the spirit of her mother every time she revisits a quote by Audre Lorde, a feminist poet and activist: “If I do not bring all of who I am to whatever I do, then I bring nothing, or nothing of lasting worth, for I have withheld my essence.”
Now, Crair is sustaining her mother’s name, and helping gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth, with a $50,000 pledge establishing the Ruth Bloch Crair Memorial Scholarship, an endowed fund for students at the UC Santa Cruz Lionel Cantú Queer Center.
Crair, vice president of Intel Corporation’s storage group, decided, along with her wife, Lisa, to name the chair after Ruth Bloch Crair, in part because she has such vivid memories of coming out to her mother.
When Crair told her mother she was a lesbian, “She was pretty upset. Her concern was, ‘You will live a hard life,’” said Crair. “She was worried about how at risk I would be. But I remember telling her at the time that I couldn’t not come out because I wouldn’t be living the Jewish values that she and my father taught me. I knew that I had to be my full authentic self.”
That difficult but ultimately empowering conversation was on her mind when she decided to give to an on-campus organization that exists to provide an open, safe, inclusive, intercultural space, promoting education about all genders and sexualities.
She also gave the endowed pledge because of her mother’s strong emphasis on education. “My mom was my biggest advocate,” she said. Ruth Bloch Crair, who died in 2004 of lung cancer, strongly encouraged her academic achievements. “She was hugely into education, a classic Jewish story. Learning was such a critical focus for her.”
Crair thought it was fitting to use the endowment to help new generations of students speak their own truth. She also thought it was a beautiful way to honor her mother. Crair, who is Jewish, referred to a saying associated with Judaism: “May their memory be a blessing.”
“This way, it lets her memory be a blessing for a lot more people than just her family,” Crair said.