Chico State Enterprises employee Tara Becraft, who worked as a grants and contracts analyst for 11 years, passed away October 23. She was 63.
Born March 25, 1959, in Suffern, New York, Becraft attended community college in New York and Aptos before coming to Chico State and earning bachelor’s degrees in home economics and dietetics in 1984. After graduation, she settled in Chico and was a co-owner of the downtown gift shop Pegasus. She also worked in finance before being hired by Chico State Enterprises (CSE) as a grants and contracts assistant in 2011.
Becraft eventually moved into the roles of grants and contracts analyst I and II, tasked with managing many of the University’s grant-funded projects. Many of her colleagues noted that it was a job she did with excellence and an exceptionally positive attitude.
“She was absolutely wonderful to work with. She always smiled. Even in frustrating times, she never complained,” said Tom Wilder, executive director of Chico State’s SAP University Competency Center. “Whenever we hit a snag, she would always go find the answer and always with a positive attitude. She was a joy to work with.”
Becraft’s expertise proved invaluable for Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology Curator Adrienne Scott in her work as the project director of the museum’s summer camp. She also brought a friendly, accessible, and “can-do” attitude that made working together fun.
“Sometimes the bureaucracy can feel overwhelming, but Tara had a way of simplifying the experience. She usually knew what to do, and even when she didn’t, she always knew who to ask for help. There were so many things that felt like an impossible hurdle, but when Tara jumped in, in less than a day or two the problem was solved,” Scott said. “She was a miracle worker in many ways.”
Faculty agreed that Becraft’s ability to navigate the system with expertise and grace was greatly appreciated. Physics professor Hyewon Pechkis’ grant from the National Science Foundation, though fantastic, felt overwhelming at times, she said. But Becraft came to the rescue, especially when it came to caring for the students involved with the project.
“Anytime issues came up that were student-related, she would magically make everything work,” Pechkis explained. “She would always go above and beyond for the students. She was always so responsive and easy to work with.”
Mechanical and mechatronic engineering professor Ozgul Yasar-Inceoglu had a similar interaction when her own project grew quite complicated due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Becraft always kept the process moving forward, she said.
“Tara was on top of every detail so she helped us tremendously. Everything was unusual but Tara made life easy for us during that process,” said Yasar-Inceoglu. “She was just an amazing and caring person. I was very happy to work with her.”
Becraft loved to make folks happy and spread joy. She did that as a member of the CSE Fun Committee, coming up with creative ideas and activities that brought the team together. She also participated in the Joy of Giving each year by making and wrapping gifts.
In her free time, Becraft loved to craft. She created jewelry, scarves, lavender sachets, neck wraps, tooth fairy pillows, and more. She often presented handmade gifts to her coworkers.
She is survived by her mother, Carol Conklin; brother Todd Becraft; daughter Molly Becraft; stepdaughters Lissa and Stephanie Moore; and grandchildren Isabella Galvao, Eryn Swenson, Silas Burr, Arya Leonard, and Maddox Kodad.
The University flag will be lowered Monday, November 28, in her memory.
Faculty and staff can contact LifeMatters at 1-800-367-7474 or www.mylifematters.com for 24/7 counseling and other services. Password: csuchico. For more information, go to www.csuchico.edu/eap/.