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Joan Safajek

Joan Catherine Safajek
February 7, 1937 - November 20, 2012
A Resident of Felton, California
Joan Catherine Safajek (formerly Safarik) passed away peacefully by candlelight in her Felton home Tuesday, November 20, 2012 after battling a brain tumor for 8 years and Lyme disease for 27 years. Joan was born February 7, 1937 in Los Angeles, the only child of Emil and Charlotte Safarik. She attended Marlborough School in L.A., graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. degree in English, and received a Masters degree in English Literature at UCLA. Her first career was teaching English. After becoming interested in psychology, she went back to school to get her M.S. degree in Clinical Psychology at San Jose State University and became a licensed Marriage Family Therapist. She trained at the San Francisco Jung Institute and led a SF State University extension program for psychology students. Her work as a psychotherapist in private practice lasted for many years, mostly in Santa Cruz, where she also taught and supervised other therapists.
After moving to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1994 for health reasons, Joan became interested in writing poetry with a group of local women. Returning to Santa Cruz in 1998, this passion developed further under study with Joseph Stroud at Cabrillo College and various Santa Cruz writing groups. Her poems were published in several local journals and she received the Mary Lonnberg Smith poetry award at Cabrillo in 2002. A collection of Joan's poems, In Deep Time, was self-published this year.
Joan loved the natural environment, whether in her early years at the beach in Santa Monica, backpacking in the Sierra Nevada, swimming with sea turtles and dolphins in Hawaii, or hiking on favorite trails in Henry Cowell State Park. She also learned to play the ukelele in her later years and enjoyed being a member of the Tuesday morning Pacific Paradise Strummers Club.
Joan is survived by her three sons, Wendell, Eric and Steven Birkhofer, from her first marriage; five grandchildren whom she adored, Wiley, Elise, Sarah, Alex, and Isabella Birkhofer; three daughters-in-law, Celeste, Carrie and Kellie Birkhofer; and cousin Marilyn Zerfas. She is also survived by her ex-husbands: G. Wendell Birkhofer, Robert Tyler and Thomas Davis. Joan's dog, Kaimu, was her faithful life companion in her sunset years.
Friends are welcome to attend a celebration of Joan's life on Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 2 p.m. at La Selva Beach Clubhouse, 314 Estrella Ave., La Selva Beach, CA 95076. If you would like to contact the family, please email clb523@pacbell.net. In lieu of flowers, Joan's children suggest donations in her honor be made to: Oxfam America (www.oxfamamerica.org) or Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks (www.thatsmypark.org). If you would like to send your condolences to Joan's family, share your memories, view or post photos, light a candle, please visit www.scmemorial.com

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Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Dec. 16, 2012
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