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Priscilla Kern Joffe

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Priscilla Kern Joffe

Priscilla Kern Joffe passed peacefully on January 31, 2014. She was 86 years old, and married to Gerardo for 62 years. Born Priscilla Yvonne Kern in Clemscott, Oklahoma, she and her family migrated to the East Texas oil fields and settled in New London, where her father, Jack, operated his own oil exploration and drilling business. Priscilla developed a love for the arts, and became a top-drawer song and dance performer throughout high school and college.

Priscilla found her true home in Texas, where she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Fine Arts. Priscilla was a principal performer there, and studied alongside future Broadway Hall of Famers, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, who co-wrote the musical, "The Fantasticks", with their close friend in mind. Priscilla could "hold court" and dazzle an audience, including her future husband to be, Gerardo.

Priscilla and Gerardo married in 1951, and after short stints in Magnolia, Boston, and New York City, they moved to San Francisco with their two young children, Michael and Rachel. They founded a cutting edge mail order company called "Haverhills", which became a huge success and standard-bearer for the Direct to Consumer industry. Priscilla was the driving force behind the company's imaging as well as many of its exclusive product offerings, while simultaneously raising a family and managing a home. One hopeful Haverhills product was the "Rodell-7", a birth-control device that Gerardo invented. Naturally, the Joffes tested all of their products, and shortly thereafter Joseph- their third son-was born. The "R-7" inconspicuously vanished from the catalogue. Haverhills' success endures to this day, and now operates under the name "Jomira Advance."

Priscilla studied at the San Francisco Art Institute with Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn and David Park, originators of the "Bay Area Figurative Movement." Priscilla was passionate about her art and talented in numerous mediums. She was invited to show her work at the De Young Museum, the San Francisco Art Institute, and San Francisco City Hall. Also an avid patron, Priscilla supported artistic creativity all over the world, and introduced new artists to the Bay Area, including Hubertus Giebe, a rising star from Dresden, Germany.

Priscilla loved to play tennis and was a longtime member of the San Francisco Tennis Club. She organized a club team called "The Piranhas" that captured the 1990 National Championship in their respective division. Members will miss the weekly thrashing Priscilla gave her husband on Court 2.

Priscilla is survived by loving members of her family and friends, including her adoring husband Gerardo, her devoted daughter Rachel and husband Derek and their three children, Zaddy, Rebecca and Jacob, her admiring son Joseph and wife Stephany, and their two children Sam and Nathan, her dear sister Diane and the entire Cunningham family, and supportive friends. We will all miss her. Priscilla was a Grand Woman, Texas Style!

Memorial services will be held at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., SF, followed by interment at Home of Peace Cemetery, 1299 El Camino Real, Colma.  In lieu of flowers, kindly make a contribution to the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA  94133  (415) 771-7020; ask@sfai.edu


Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Feb. 3 to Feb. 4, 2014
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