Community remembers generous, guiding soul


Cindy Pantoja / The Advocate

Health and Human Services chairperson Aminta Mickles reminisces about professor Stephen Greer’s legacy during his memorial service on June 12 in Vallejo.

By Cindy Pantoja, Editor-in-Chief

The East Bay community mourns the unexpected loss of one of its greatest mentors who dedicated many years of his life to helping others.

Psychologist Stephen F. Greer passed away at age 74. He was born on July 12, 1944, in Berkeley, California and he died on June 17, 2019.

Greer was a professor at Contra Costa College and the clinical supervisor at Healthy Partnership in Fairfield, California.

At the age of 20, he began working with Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall as a deputy probation officer. He started working at Contra Costa College in September 1970 as a counselor and instructor.

Years later, he became the coach for the CCC track team.

For almost 50 years, Greer served CCC, breeding a whole community of successful athletes, professors, therapists and counselors.

Health and human services department Chairperson Aminta Mickles is a former psychology student and she is now chairperson of the department. She is also a therapist who provides her services to a larger community.

“I knew I could go to community college, but I did not know how I would make it at a four year (institution), I knew that with professor Greer’s guidance I could be successful,” Mickles said.

Fred Jackson was recruited for the Comet track team by Greer after he graduated from Richmond High in 1976.

“He was a great role model who cared about my future. After losing a father at 11 years old, this is the kind of individual you want in your life. I’m rich because of the impact professor Steve Greer had in my life,” Jackson said.

Adjunct health and human services professor Shondra West met Greer as an academic advisor in 1992 when she was a student at CCC. He created a successful educational plan that helped her earn an associate degree as a medical assistant.

“I graduated from Cal State-East Bay and Argosy University, earning a master’s degree and teaching at CCC alongside his (Greer’s) prodigy and my mentor professor Aminta Mickles.”

Over the years, he transformed many lives at CCC by introducing hypnosis in his curriculum and by founding the health and human services department.

Mickles described him as a generator of life and someone who cared about other people’s needs.

“Professor Greer encouraged me to pursue my dreams, to be the best at what I choose to do and to give back to the community,” she said.

The HHS program celebrated 20 years of service during its yearly Spring Conference on May 17. At the celebration, the HHS recognized Greer for his time and dedication to the program.

HHS Club President Kristin Lobos said the members of the club wanted to recognize him in life after they found out how many years he had been teaching at CCC.

“We wanted people to know how amazing he was because he was very humble and would never toot his own horn — it wasn’t his style,” Lobos said.

A memorial service was held to honor Greer’s life at Union Baptist Church in Vallejo on July 6, where people shared stories of how Greer changed their lives in positive ways.

“Our track team was like a family we were able to have a professor, counselor and track coach who cared and gave us vision,” Jackson said. “He made sure I was on track to graduate in two years and then I could move forward to Cal State Hayward.”

According to family, friends, students and colleagues, he was an avid fisherman, he enjoyed reading, cooking for his family and friends and he was always willing to lend a helping hand.

“He was on the hiring committee when I got my job as a tenure-track professor of sociology,” sociology professor Vern Cromartie said. “I will always be thankful to him that he was one of the faculty members on that hiring committee who saw that I was the right person for the position.”

Greer’s education included a bachelor of arts in sociology from San Francisco State University, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from John F. Kennedy University and a master of arts in education from SFSU.

“He was a shining example of what it means to be a man who could merge theory with action,” Dr. Cromartie said. “He did not just talk the talk; professor Greer walked the walk.”

Greer has left a permanent mark etched on the hearts of the hundreds of people he helped throughout his life.

“Professor Greer always had a grounded demeanor about him; you just trusted him. He loved to tell stories about his life and family.” Lobos said.

West remembered Greer as a beacon of light that instilled hope in many people’s lives to generously provide his wisdom and support.

“He saw people’s potential and was encouraging even when people doubted themselves,” She said. “His words of inspiration were compassionate enough for people to explore opportunities of the unknown.”

He was a loving husband and father of three children. He is missed by family, colleagues, students, friends, and the community he served.

“I hope that Professor Greer will be remembered forever at Contra Costa College and elsewhere. He was a man who touched a lot of lives and dedicated his life to helping others.”