Jan deBeers

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Jan Spielman deBeers

A world traveler who served in the United States Information Service and was married first to a diplomat and then to an international economist, Jan Spielman deBeers passed away at the age of 90 at Friends House in Santa Rosa, CA on June 7, 2013, from complications of breast cancer and Parkinson's Disease. Her life was filled with international travel and exotic experiences, such as an elephant-borne tiger hunt when she and her first husband were stationed in Pakistan. Born Jane Ann Rendall in Chicago on March 8, 1923, her father Le Verne Rendall was an accountant and her mother Berenice Van Vranken Rendall was a housewife. The Rendall family later moved to Los Angeles; Jane Ann graduated from Hollywood High School in 1940. She graduated from UCLA in 1944, where she was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. During one college summer she worked in a war factory in Seattle, where her divorced father lived. She worked on the sales staff of the 1943 UCLA Yearbook and is listed in the 1944 Yearbook as active in the Home-Coming committee, the War Board and the Election Committee. After graduation she found a job in advertising, promoting the magazine "Charm, the Magazine for the Business Girl." That experience led to a job with the United States Information Service, part of the State Department. Her job took her to Karachi, Pakistan in 1951, where she met Henry (Harry) W. Spielman, a member of the U. S. Foreign Service working as an Agricultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy. They were married on May 20, 1952. Their wedding reception was held at the residence of the American Ambassador, Avra M. Warren.


A tall, athletic and strikingly-handsome woman, Jane Ann was required to leave the USIS and become a diplomat's wife, a role she performed with verve and aplomb. Around this time Jane Ann decided that her name should be Jan, and her more recent passports bear that name. Jan and Harry traveled in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, often with their dog "Douggie." In 1955 Harry was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, where he was First Secretary. They spent about two years in Turkey, where they traveled widely. Their next assignment was in Washington, D.C., where Harry worked on South Asian affairs, specializing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Jan and Harry went back to Pakistan in 1962, where they served until 1965. They returned to Washington, and Harry retired from the Foreign Service on March 31, 1966. They retired to an active life in Northern California. Jan was active in the United Nations Association of San Francisco and the Red Cross, and was a docent at the San Francisco Zoo. She enjoyed fishing and golf. Jan and Harry attended the San Francisco Friends Meeting and became acquainted with fellow Quakers John (Jack) S. and Marianna deBeers; Harry and Jack became frequent golfing partners. After Harry's death in 1988 and Marianna's death in 1989, Jack and Jan became close and married on January 7, 1990 at the San Francisco Friends Meeting. Jan and Harry had no children, but by marrying Jack, Jan acquired children, grandchildren and later great-grandchildren.


Jan and Jack split their time between a house in Stinson Beach, CA, where Jack's younger daughter Anne de Beers Rand lives, and San Francisco, where Jack's older daughter Margaret (Peggy) deBeers Brown lives. Jack was a specialist in Latin American economics and volunteered to consult with the Sandinista government in Nicaragua soon after their marriage. Jan recalled that they stayed in a cheap Managua hotel with no hot water. Nevertheless, the marriage survived. Both Jan and Jack loved travel, and during their nearly two decades of marriage their travel destinations (in addition to several trips to Nicaragua) included Alaska and many states of the U.S., the Canadian Maritime Provinces, Costa Rica, China, Ca, Egypt, Mexico and several European countries. They moved to Friends House in Santa Rosa, a Quaker Retirement Community, in 2008. Jack passed awy in 2009. Jan remained at Friends House, where she had made many friends, and was living there when she passed away. Jan is survived by her stepdaughters Anne and Peggy, their children Carlisle Rand Krakowski, Emeline Brown Berlind and Eric Brown, Anne's stepchildren Christopher Rand and Hilary Rand, Carlisle's son Nathaniel and Emeline's children Alexander and Emeline. The family would like to thank the caring staff of Friends House and Memorial Hospice for their wonderful care that made the last months of Jan's life so peaceful and comfortable. Memorial contributions should be made to Friends House, 684 Benicia Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95409, or Memorial Hospice, 439 College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.


Published in San Francisco Chronicle on June 30, 2013
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