Marcia Joan CanningApril 18, 1948 ~ January 4, 2018 (age 69)
On the morning of Thursday, January 4th, Marcia Joan Canning passed away in her sleep at her home, with her husband and best friend Jay at her side. She is survived by her daughter, Leah Pollack, and her beloved grandchildren, Darijah and Darryl. She also leaves behind three sisters who adored and admired her: Sister Cynthia Canning, SNJM; Mary P. Canning (Peter Wohlfeiler); and Claire Conway (Terrence Conway), her “adopted” sister, Sister Donna Maynard as well as her adoring nephews, Douglas and Thomas Watson and Stephen Lazaro.
Marcia was born in Oakland on April 18, 1948 to Marie J. O’Sullivan and Lawrence A. Canning. She graduated from Holy Names High School and went on to Holy Names University, where she majored in sociology and French. Shortly after her college graduation, she married Dennis Hedgecock, and moved to Davis, while Dennis completed his doctoral studies. They divorced in 1981. While working briefly as a secretary at UC Davis Medical School, she decided to take a pre-law class. Her interest piqued and her ability confirmed, she enrolled at Hastings College of the Law, where she graduated in 1976. Once Marcia discovered law, it never lost its appeal. She said of it, “I liked the way I learned to think.”
It was during her five years as a trial lawyer at the National Labor Relations Board in San Francisco and Oakland that she made many lifelong friends and met Jay Pollack, who would become her husband, best friend, and companion through many life challenges, including the Juvenile Diabetes that she battled without complaint for 53 years. Marcia and Jay were married in 1982 and welcomed their daughter Leah into their family in 1983.
Marcia’s next career step was a move to the UC Office of the General Counsel, where for 17 years she worked on every campus and the National Laboratories on a variety of legal projects. In 1998 she was appointed General Counsel at Hastings College of the Law, and in 2001 she accepted the critical role as Chief Campus Counsel for the UCSF Campus, providing legal advice to both the campus and the Medical Center on a range of issues, including academic affairs, research misconduct, compliance and regulatory matters, employment issues, whistleblower complaints, business transactions, affiliation agreements, and Medical Center matters. At the time of her retirement in 2013, she was credited with increasing the legal services capacity for UCSF, training and nurturing attorneys and staff who are service-oriented, and leading the Office in process improvements and administrative modernization that resulted in increased effectiveness in responding to the needs of the campus and Medical Center. She put in long hours and often worked six days a week, sometimes as early as 6:30 in the morning in order to advise a surgeon or anesthesiologist.
Marcia was a professional of the highest order with her incisive legal mind balanced by her respect for each person. She was known for her wonderful combination of intellect, warmth, wit and humor. As one friend and former colleague said in learning of her death, “Marcia was an incredible person – honest, compassionate, resolute, courageous, and someone who always did the right thing.”
Among Marcia’s greatest joys was watching her two grandchildren grow, and sharing adventures with them, such as weekend trips to the California Academy of Sciences and the Randall Museum. She enjoyed going to the San Francisco Opera and American Conservatory Theater, as well as taking walks or otherwise visiting with special friends and family members.
Though small in stature, Marcia leaves a very large hole in the lives of her family, friends, colleagues, and all who were blessed to have her cross their paths.
A celebration of Marcia’s life will be held on Saturday January 27th at 3 p.m. in the chapel at Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Blvd. Oakland. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a memorial contribution in Marcia’s name to the Diabetes Center at UCSF, 513 Parnassus Avenue, Room 1116, San Francisco, CA 94143.