They loved the university and what it brought to the town

Mr. and Mrs. Deck

Through a planned gift, a former trustee, dedicated volunteer, and donor continues her support of the Seymour Center and Jewish Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

When Harriet and John Deck and their two daughters arrived in Santa Cruz in the early 1970s, they found their permanent home. Harriet fell in love with Santa Cruz—its relaxed laid-back feel, the natural beauty, the arts and culture, the community of people. She became a real estate broker and later co-owner of Schooner Realty. She served on the boards of numerous arts and charity organizations—and the family made many friends among the faculty of UC Santa Cruz.

“She was energetic and dynamic, very smart, and very social,” said Caitlin Deck (Porter ’87, theater arts), Harriet and John’s daughter.

Among the organizations Harriet Deck volunteered for was the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. A lover of the ocean and dedicated to marine conservation, she served on the board for years. Then a few years ago, she included the Seymour Center in her estate, along with the UCSC Humanities Division.

Harriet loved connecting people. On meeting a new person, she’d introduce them to people she thought they’d be interested in knowing. Through her enthusiastic networking and community organizing, she was instrumental in helping Santa Cruz retailers continue their business out of tents following the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, which is credited for many stores’ survival.

Harriet Deck passed away in 2014 and John Deck followed in 2019. Now realized, their planned gift supports the Seymour Center as it teaches the Monterey Bay community about ocean science. Daughters Caitlin and Amalia asked that the bequest to the Humanities Division be directed to UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Jewish Studies—Harriet was a fan of director Nathaniel Deutsch’s exploration of Jewish history and culture.

“They loved the university and what it brought to the town,” said Caitlin Deck. “My mom loved this town and it was important to her that she was able to support the organizations that keep it vibrant.

By: J.D. Hillard,


Learn about making planned gifts to UC Santa Cruz.

If you would like to discuss how you can include the university in your estate plans, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at or (831) 459-5227

Posted in News, News & Events.