Deanne Elise Pernell
October 13, 1954-April 14, 2014
Resident of Watsonville
Deanne Elise Pernell grew up in Southern California. Her interests in social justice and education were life-long. While in high school she helped create an ecology club. While attending UC Santa Cruz she was a founding member of Santa Cruz Women Against Rape (S.C.W.A.R.), an organization which gave support to women who had been assaulted. This organization educated the community to deepen understanding of the causes of rape and developed alternatives to the civil justice system. She continued to be a part of S.C.W.A.R. for almost two decades. She was also part of the Women's Student Teaching Collective, which presented the first Introduction to Women's Studies class at UCSC.
After graduating from college Deanne worked her way through the apprenticeship program of the local plumbers union, primarily in construction of housing complexes, including Independence Square in Watsonville and Elizabeth Oaks and La Posada in Santa Cruz. During slow periods in construction she worked as a substitute care provider at the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center and the Simcha Preschool, both of which provided a foundation for her understanding of early childhood development. She was part of the group which started the local Child Assault Prevention Program, going into schools to help children develop safety strategies.
In 1980 she met her life partner, Jan Shirchild. After the Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, they married on December 18, 2013. They were together for 33 years.
Deanne went back to UCSC in 1987 to complete her teaching credential and worked as a third grade teacher at MacQuiddy School in Watsonville for 20 years. She was a strong advocate for bilingual education. She also served as a representative for her local teachers union for most of her teaching career.
In 1996 Jan and Deanne brought their son Brian Thomas into their lives. Marleena Brown entered their lives a year later. Brian's children became the lights and focus of her life. She loved experiencing life with them and facilitating a variety of life experiences for them.
Deanne had a love of animals, including living with a horse, a cockatiel, and many dogs and cats.
Deanne was diagnosed with breast cancer
in 1999 and metastatic breast cancer in 2009. She died on April 14, 2014 after a procedure to repair the mitral valve in her heart. Her mother, Beverly Eilleen Furst Pernell, died in 2006. She is survived by her partner, Jan Shirchild; her father, Godfrey Pernell; her son, Brian Thomas; Marleena Brown, who she considered a daughter; grandchildren Alexcia Martinez and Izaya Thomas Martinez; brothers, Gary (Wilhemina Condon) of Seattle, Washington; Wayne (Shannon) in Benicia, Jeff in Missoula, Montana; sister and brother-in-law Lee Berthel and Joseph Burton of Oakland; nieces and nephews: Lia Pernell, Amelia Pernell, Nicole Burton, Cinya Burton, Jacob Pernell, Lucas Pernell, Daniella Lombardi, Sarina Pernell, Trinity Lombardi, Miranda Pernell, and Xander Pernell.
Her memorial will be held on Saturday, May 3 at 2pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Aptos. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in her memory to WomenCARE, Breast Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Fund, and/or Pesticide Action Network.