Passing of Linda S. Mitteness, PhD

It is with a heavy heart that we share news that Linda S. Mitteness, PhD, passed away on November 19, 2022, after collapsing at the Parnassus campus where she was attending a meeting. 

Linda was an Emeritus Professor at UCSF. For six years she served as Chair of the Medical Anthropology program. For ten years she also served as Director of an NIA-supported post-doctoral program in the Medical Anthropology Program at UCSF. She served on several Chancellor's committees as well as UC system-wide committees. An elected member of the Gerontological Society of America, Linda was also one of the founding members of the Social Gerontology group of the American Anthropology Association.

Linda’s educational journey began in a one-room schoolhouse near her family’s farm in Minnesota. After transferring to the town schools, she graduated from Benson High as valedictorian. She then attended the University of Minnesota and received a BA in Child Psychology. In 1975, Linda graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies. 

In 1977 she arrived at UCSF to work as a senior research assistant on a study examining whether a father’s age upon the birth of their first child affects the relationship between fathers and their children.  Results showed that first-time fathers over the age of thirty-five were more supportive of daughters than for children of younger fathers.  

After taking a faculty position in the medical anthropology program she began her own research on the management of chronic illnesses among older people, with an initial focus on urinary incontinence. As one of the first social scientists to study this topic, she was regularly consulted by physicians and biomedical researchers, and was an invited speaker on this topic at NIA conferences. Her research interests in symptom management next focused on fatigue and a variety of other diseases including arthritis, diabetes, and the management of below the knee amputations in veterans. She then investigated social interactions among residents in nursing homes as well as participation in the Alzheimer's Center at UCSF. Her research was supported mainly by grants from various NIH institutes.

She taught courses in statistics and methods for doctoral students in the social sciences and developed courses in child development and the ethics of scientific research. Linda was also a regular faculty participant in the School of Medicine’s Foundations of Patient Care course. Later teaching activities mainly involved providing one-on-one tutorials on a range of dissertation topics with doctoral students and serving as an examiner on qualifying examinations and providing mentorship to post-doctoral scholars.

She is survived by her wife of 40 years, Judith C. Barker, PhD, an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Judith has asked that people not send flowers but instead donate to St. John's UCC of San Francisco for outreach to the needy. Donations can be made at St John's United Church of Christ - San Francisco by selecting the Donate button and clicking on the Linda Mitteness Memorial Fund. Checks can be sent to St. John’s UCC, at 501 Laguna Honda Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94127, with the notation Linda Mitteness Memorial Fund. Linda was an active member and leader at St. John's for forty years.

In the new year, there will be a Celebration of Life at St. John’s; it will also be on Zoom.  Details will be available on the St. John's website; if you want to receive details via email, please send an email to [email protected].