Died peacefully at home Thursday morning, May 20th, 2004. He had battled multiple myeloma since December, 2002. He would have been 69 on May 25. He was best known as "Easy."
A 38-year Novato resident, for most of that time Easy was a teacher and coach at Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo. Previously, he had taught for seven years in San Francisco. During his years at Drake High, Easy established soccer at the school in 1969 and coached the boys' team for a number of years, started a wrestling team and coached it for three years, then later coached girls' soccer.
Easy was born in Cesis, Latvia. During World War II, his parents managed to escape with their nine year-old son when the communists occupied Latvia, where his father's life was endangered because he was a minister. They lived under Stalin's rule for a year, then under Hitler's regime for a year. When Stalin's Russian troops marched back into Riga, Easy's family left by train. They traveled through Poland and Germany by train and on foot, until a U.S. Army truck drove them to a displaced persons camp in Manheim, Germany where the Abers lived for three years until they were able to emigrate to the United States. Although he was just 13, Easy clearly remembered the day that he saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time. The family highly valued the freedom they found in the United States.
Throughout the remainder of his youth, Easy had numerous homes, getting exposed to American life in all kinds of places. His family lived for a time in Buffalo, New York, then moved to the little town of Chugwater, Wyoming. Easy had especially fond memories of Chugwater where he enjoyed the strenuous work he did on a farm, developed an ear for country western music, and loved midwestern cuisine, particularly at church potlucks. It was in Chugwater that Imants was first dubbed "Easy" because he made so many things look easy. His coaches found him to be a natural on the basketball court and on the track. His school friends were impressed both by his athleticism and the speed with which he learned English as well as assimilating American mannerisms.
After graduating from Shasta Union High School in Redding, CA, in 1955, Easy enrolled in San Francisco State University, where he obtained his Bachelors' degree and teaching credential in 1961. While there, he played soccer and was awarded the honor of All American Soccer Player. Easy proudly became a naturalized citizen on June 22, 1955. He served in the National Guard for six years and was discharged as an E-6 Staff Sergeant in 1963.
Easy married Nedra Hendrix in 1962. They raised their two sons in Novato and were active in all aspects of family life, from church to school to sports.
Easy was devoted to physical fitness and throughout his years there, could be seen jogging through Novato neighborhoods on even the hottest summer afternoons. He spent many hours building his muscles, strength and friendships at Rolling Hills Club, then at the Marin Fitness. On his 46th birthday Easy ran the Pacific Sun Marathon. Following his retirement at age 60, he particularly enjoyed skiing at Bear Valley Ski Resort. At age 65 he took up white-water kayaking, and made his last trip on the American River last September, just before his illness relapsed.
Imants "Easy" Abers is predeceased by his parents Oscar and Nanija Zakis Abers. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Nedra, son Steven and wife, Anita and her son and grandson, Jason and Kaelob Chickering, and son Jonathan and wife, Michelle, and grandson, Tyler. A devoted husband, father and grandfather, he will be greatly missed.
A close friend recently commented, "He is a very private person, but he always lets you know what really matters to him. Easy is passionate about his family, his God, his heritage, and health. And isn't that what a good life should be about?"
A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, May 28, at the Novato United Methodist Church at 1473 So. Novato Blvd. Visitation is scheduled 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, at Keaton's Redwood Chapel, 1801 Novato Blvd. Arrangements are being made by Keaton's of Novato. Memoriums can be made to the International Myeloma Foundation, 12650 Riverside Dr., STE 206, North Hollywood, CA 91607-3421; myeloma.org; or to Hospice of Marin Memorial Program, 150 Nellen Ave., Corte Madera, CA 94925-1133.
Published in Marin Independent Journal on May 25, 2004