Article - Office of College Advancement

Former Ohlone trustee remembered as activist

More than 100 people honor Dan Archer

By Linh Tat, Staff writer.

Saturday, June 30, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—Dan Archer grew up to become a devoted educator, but he was far from being a model student as a youth.

For instance, he was pulled out of seminary by his mother for frequently causing problems, said his younger sibling, Sister Marilyn Archer.

And when Archer was in middle school, he and a friend hitchhiked from their hometown in Ohio to his uncle's house in Delaware without informing anyone of their plan.

"All he had was a tiny suitcase, and the only thing he had inside was crackers. My mom was frantic. The police were looking for him," Sister Archer said.

Before arriving in Delaware, Archer and his friend made their way to Washington, D.C., to sit on the steps of the Capitol.

"He liked to travel and take risks," Sister Archer said.

Such stories were shared by family and friends of the formerOhlone College trustee during a funeral and reception at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Friday.

More than 100 people, including elected officials and other local dignitaries, came to honor the longtime community activist and public servant who died of heart failure on Sunday. The 88-year-old Archer had been battling poor health for several year.

Born in Ohio, Archer was one of seven children raised in a religious household.

After serving as a Marine in World War II—a deed he was proud to point out—Archer found employment with the Newark school district from 1961 to 1979. He worked first as a middle school teacher, then was principal at Silva, Milani, Muller and Musick schools.

After retiring, Archer served on the Ohlone board from 1979 through February 2007. During that time, he helped found the Ohlone College Foundation and, along with his late wife, Bernice Marie Archer, established a scholarship for art students.

Stepping down from the board was difficult for Archer, who still wanted to serve the community.

After all, he had remained an active citizen throughout his retirement, volunteering at Washington Hospital, advocating for the arts and organizing gatherings for his friends.

He also wrote a column for a community magazine and hosted his own public access television show, "Dan Archer Profiles," in which he interviewed local celebrities.

"I always got the impression he was a lot busier after retirement," said Tom Howard, Archer's stepgrandson.

Indeed, Archer's loyalty to his community never wavered, said Dave Smith, Newark mayor and executive director of the Ohlone College Foundation.

"Dan was always faithful. He was faithful to his wife. … He was faithful to our community. He was faithful to our children," Smith said.

Archer also was faithful to his Irish roots. The man whom colleagues described as having a gift for the blarney co-founded The Irish League for the Tri-City area.

Family members and friends also characterized Archer as an inquisitive fellow who deliberately played devil's advocate to get an intellectual debate going.

Nancy Conard, a member of the Fremont Art Association, to which Archer belonged, recalled the two disagreeing over an issue during their first encounter at an art show some 30 years ago.

"But he stayed so cool and so calm. I learned something from that," she said.

Archer didn't always give advice, but he led by example, she said.

"I think he changed a lot of people," said Conard, whose sentiment was shared by others.

To honor the man who once was a leader of the local Knights of Columbus, a representative from the Catholic fraternal organization announced during the funeral that a chalice engraved with Archer's name will be used by another church in the future.

Archer is survived by his stepson, Don Howard, and Howard's four children.

Staff writer Linh Tat can be reached at (510) 353-7010 or

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