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Diane Jessee


1942 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Diane Jessee Obituary

Diane Jessee was admired for her tremendous kindness, keen intellect, and enduring strength.

Diane was born to Robert Holmes and Nell Harwood on April 14, 1942 in Corpus Christi, Texas. After Robert fought in WWII, her family moved to Northern California. As the second oldest child of nine, Diane had close bonds with the older siblings and helped care for and teach the younger ones.

During her freshman year in college, Diane met her future husband, John T. Jessee, Jr. They married on June 23, 1960 and started a home in Yuba City. They had the opportunity to spend two summers in Spain together before they had children. Also during this time, they hosted several of Diane's younger siblings at their house on Brown Ave.

Like her parents and husband, Diane was as an educator. She taught English at Marysville and Wheatland High Schools until 1970, when their first child, Elaine, was born. After a brief return to teaching, Diane was accepted at UC Davis Law School in 1975. She juggled four years of school and home life, during which time they had two more children, John and Joe.

Diane worked hard to establish herself in a male-dominated profession. She started her new career practicing family law, but didn't find her calling of indigent criminal defense until 1986. She worked for the public defender offices in Sutter, Yuba, and Yolo Counties. Diane fought relentlessly for each and every client, including those who were guilty and those who were ungrateful, because she believed fiercely in the importance of individual civil liberties and constitutional rights. She mentored countless newer attorneys who remember her as talented, dedicated, and wise, and who continue her legacy.

Diane was a leader in her community and an advocate for equality. She was active in the League of Women Voters, the AAUW, and St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, where she was inspired by the strong women she met. She looked forward to witnessing the first woman president.

Despite all her obligations, Diane never abandoned her love for literature. She could easily get lost in a good novel-whether a classic, detective mystery, or science fiction. Diane's friends would be treated from time to time to a favorite poem that she had tucked away.

Family was always very important to Diane. She welcomed her children's spouses Shad Shannon, and Kristen into her family with open arms, and she adored grandchildren Jesse and Julia. She attended countless little league games and school events, hosted birthday parties, and enjoyed family camping trips and vacations to Hawaii. Diane's children always looked forward to the perfect turkey she cooked for the holidays (never dry), and her delicious sweet rolls made from scratch every Christmas morning.

Likewise, Diane cherished her lifelong relationships with her siblings: Nell Elaine Chandler, Susan Jones, Robert Holmes Jr., Louisa Schmidl, Kathy Doneson, Liz Cooper, Daniel Holmes, and Nancy Geiger. On many hot Yuba City afternoons, the extended family enjoyed pool parties in Diane's backyard. At other family events, they looked forward to her famous punch, carrot cake, and helping hands. She was always there for others and had a knack for bringing people together.

Diane died September 13, 2016 at home. She will be greatly missed and fondly remembered. A memorial service and Celebration of Life will be held at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 1390 Franklin Road, Yuba City on Friday, October 14, 2016 at 9:30 A.M.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Hands of Hope, P.O. Box 88, Yuba City, 95992, Bridges to Housing, 909 Spiva Ave, YC 95991, or to St. Andrew Presbyterian Church for their food closet, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard.

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Published in Appeal Democrat from Sept. 20 to Oct. 12, 2016
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