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Gabriele Rico


1937 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Gabriele Rico Obituary
Gabriele Lusser Rico
July 11, 1937 - March 15, 2013
Resident of Cupertino
Gabriele Lusser Rico, Professor Emeritus of English and Creative Arts at San Jose State University, lectured on the application of brain research to writing, learning, and the creative process. She created a brainstorming process called Clustering, a non-linear method to tap creativity in writing, described in her classic book Writing the Natural Way.
Gabriele's words, excerpted from her San Jose State University biography, tell the story of her life:
"An immigrant from Germany, I didn't speak English until I was almost 12. I wanted so badly to belong to America, I spoke almost without accent within seven months. My mother, killed in a bombing raid just before war's end, was replaced by a step-mother who added four children to the five my father already had, making my teenage years complicated, including yearly moves and four high schools.
"My finances forced me to shift from UC Berkeley to SJSU-and I have never been sorry. Not only did I learn much from my caring professors, but I ended up teaching at SJSU for over 40 years. Then, I was accepted into a Ph.D. program at Stanford involving brain research and creativity, which radically changed the trajectory of my life.
"I became a passionate writer, was selected as both President's Scholar and Teacher/Scholar, and held an Endowed Chair at Notre Dame in Belmont, CA. A survivor of two cancers, each day I am grateful for the privilege of being an American, for my participation in the SJSU community, which gave me the freedom to spread my wings to fly in unanticipated directions, and for the ongoing gift of learning, which leads to ever-new challenges."
Diagnosed with a third cancer last June, Gabriele faced her disease and looming death with the curiosity, wonder, courage, and grace that characterized her life. An "adventure" she called it. She is survived by her husband, Richard Ressman; her three daughters, Stephanie, Suzanne, and Simone Rico; her stepson David Ressman, and a wide circle of family and friends. In a 1991 interview that will continue to resonate long into the future, Gabriele shared her approach to life:
"If you face your griefs and your losses and your negatives, you can take your life in little steps, one at a time. You won't be caught by unmanageable crises. It's not a matter of what hurts us in life, it's how we deal with what hurts us that matters."
A celebration of Gabriele's life will be held at the San Jose State University Theater on Saturday, March 23rd at 1 pm. In lieu of gifts, donations can be made to the Rico-Ressman Endowment Fund at San Jose State to support emerging writers. This can be done online at http://www.sjsu.edu/giving/

Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Mar. 22, 2013
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