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Terrill Lee Williamson


1942 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Terrill Lee Williamson Obituary
Terrill Lee Williamson
July 15, 1942 - Feb. 11, 2017
Resident of Pleasant Hill
Terri Williamson, an outspoken individualist who served a record 27 years on the Pleasant Hill City Council, died of a heart attack on February 11. She was 74 years old.
Terri was born in Berkeley, to parents Dorothy and Glenn Higginbotham. Despite becoming a mother at the age of 20 and a divorcee soon after, she pursued a college education and earned a B.S. in Marine Zoology from UC Berkeley in 1968. Daughter Shawna in tow, she then conducted graduate research at the Bodega Marine Laboratory. An early feminist and trailblazer, Terri became one of the first few female zookeepers in the United States when she was hired by the Knowland Park Oakland Zoo in 1974.
In 1976, Terri moved to Pleasant Hill. Her involvement in local politics began when she fought the closure of Pleasant Hill High School. She then co-founded PH Citizens for Responsible Growth to fight big development and preserve local neighborhoods. After a short stint on the Planning Commission, she was elected to the City Council in 1985. She was reelected six times, and appointed once, and sat on the Council for a total of 27 years. During that time, she was Mayor for three terms, chair of the Redevelopment Agency, and an outspoken and devoted advocate for quality of life. In an era characterized by explosive growth of strip malls and box stores elsewhere, she persevered as a champion for a central, walkable downtown in Pleasant Hill, and is in significant part responsible for the existence of the current downtown. She continued to fight hard for local schools, mental health, and the environment.
Terri was a biologist, naturalist, and non-conformist at heart. In Pleasant Hill, on her own initiative, she conducted primary research on local steelhead and salmon runs under the aegis of graduate study at CSU Hayward, and was known to carry an unconcealed handgun when doing remote fieldwork while also sporting the statement jewelry she loved to collect. An avid gardener, she became a Certified Nursery Professional and for many years managed local garden centers, and routinely spent too much of her income on the expansion and care of her large beautiful garden.
After 35 years in Pleasant Hill, Terri moved to the Grass Valley area in 2012 to be closer to family. In recent years, her health suffered due to repeated strokes. Survivors include her daughters Shawna Shaffer (m. Jim Shaffer) of Hilmar and Jennifer Williamson Burt (m. Andrew Burt) of Grass Valley, grandchildren Elsa and Evan Burt, and sister Adrienne Sue Raymond of Vallejo. A celebration of her life will be held at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center, on Sunday March 12 at 3PM.


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Published in East Bay Times on Feb. 19, 2017
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