Ronald D. Nelson was 82.
He reportedly died after a walk with friends Monday afternoon in Tilden Park, authorities said.
He served as chief from 1982 to 1990, managing a 300-person department.
He was replaced by Dashiel Butler when he went to work for the UC San Francisco Police Department.
Nelson received his early training and experience with the Los Angeles Police Department, which he joined in 1956 as a police officer, later advancing to sergeant and then lieutenant.
Nelson was later a police commander with the Compton Police Department, and also served as city manager and assistant city manager of Compton.
Former Berkeley Police Chief Ron Nelson attends the department’s celebration of 100 years of service on April 7, 2005, in Berkeley, Calif. (Joanna
Former Berkeley Police Chief Ron Nelson attends the department's celebration of 100 years of service on April 7, 2005, in Berkeley, Calif. (Joanna Jhanda/Bay Area News Group Archives)
Nelson earned a bachelor's degree from Drake University, a master's degree from Pepperdine and did additional academic work in sociology and public administration at California State University at Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount, Fort McClennan, California Institute of Technology, and California Polytechnic University.
Funeral arrangements are pending.