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Jeffrey Alan Hadler


1968 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Jeffrey Alan Hadler Obituary
Jeffrey Alan Hadler

March 27, 1968 - January 11, 2017

Chapel Hill

Jeff Hadler, beloved husband, father, son, brother and friend, succumbed to cancer on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 in Berkeley, California. When there were no straws left to hold onto, he said, "I love my daughters, I'm proud of my career, I enjoy my home, and my marriage is really good. I'm at peace." Jeff's wife and daughters, Kumi, Maia and Noe Hadler, of Berkeley; his parents, Carol and Nortin Hadler of Chapel Hill; his sister, Elana Perl of Washington DC and his aunt, Mona Hadler of NYC, were with him when he died and are deeply saddened by his passing. They have undying love and admiration for Jeff, and will miss him dearly, every day.

Jeff was born in Boston, grew up in Chapel Hill and graduated from Chapel Hill High School. As a high school student, he spent a summer in Jakarta, Indonesia with the American Field Service. He returned committed to understanding Indonesia's cultural panoply with a view toward a scholarship that would serve its peoples. He received a BA from Yale University in 1990 having designed a curriculum rich in ethnography, linguistics, literature, political science and theology. He earned a PhD in Southeast Asian history at Cornell after which he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta. In 2001, Jeff joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley.

Jeff rapidly made a name for himself in the field of Southeast Asian studies. He published extensively on a wide range of subjects. His book "Muslims and Matriarchs: Cultural Resilience in Indonesia through Jihad and Colonialism" won the prestigious Harry J Benda Prize from the Association for Asian Studies. He taught courses on the religions, cultures, art, history and, particularly, the literature of Island Southeast Asia. He was known for great story-telling skills, for narratives laced with his legendary wit, and for devotion to students. He was a particularly perceptive and steadfast advisor to many graduate students and a friend and mentor to many Cal faculty and staff.

Jeff had boundless generosity of spirit. This stood him well in leadership positions as Chair of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies and Chair of the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies. He also had a finely honed and shining moral compass. He devoted many hours in his last years to combatting sexual harassment at UC-Berkeley, "I'm tired of being told to keep my mouth shut and let the wheels of justice turn, because they're turning pretty slowly." He was anything but silent.

Jeff was the most devoted of husbands and fathers. He delighted in walking and talking with his daughters and did so regularly. Jeff leaves a great void in the lives of many more. He also leaves a legacy of scholarship and of a life well spent. Berkeley has established the "Jeffrey Hadler Memorial," a fund to support the study of Indonesia and the Islands of Southeast Asia (https://give.berkeley.edu/hadler).
Published in The News & Observer from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5, 2017
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