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Jeffrey Betcher


1960 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Jeffrey Betcher Obituary
Jeffrey Lee Betcher

June 6, 1960 - October 21, 2017

Jeffrey Betcher, poet, community organizer, designer of comfortable pants, and friend to all wounded people, died at his home in San Francisco's Bayview district on Saturday, October 21st, cared for by his closest friends.

A native of Mount Vernon, Ohio, Jeffrey moved to San Francisco in the 1980s and cast his creative energy in many directions. He was a community activist who threw his whole self into every project he took on, from a peculiar little art salon to the Quesada Gardens Initiative to PeopleWearSF. He served as program and operations director for the Family Violence Prevention Fund during a crucial period of raising awareness and developing policy. As co-founder and for many years leader of the Quesada Gardens Initiative, he helped his neighbors turn a trash-filled median into a flourishing vegetable and flower garden that brought the community together and inspired a network of public spaces. And when he dreamed up a line of locally made streetwear "payamas" under the Yam Street brand, he felt compelled to also co-found an organization to support Bay Area textile makers, PeopleWearSF.

Jeffrey was always up for argument and disinclined to accept the status quo—variations on the phrase "What makes you say that?" were never far from his lips—and he remained a righteous activist to the very end, as he navigated a frustrating health care system. His essential Jeffreyness emerged perhaps most powerfully in his incredible grace in taking on cancer and his unflinching, hilarious writing about things most of us are afraid to think about, let alone verbalize.

It seems only right to give him the last words, a few lines from his 1997 poem "Do Not Cry By My Casket":
"So cry if you must, but not for me,
since I am rising with thread in hand
and sewn to you with love's loose stitch now
ready to ravel or pull for you at will."

Jeffrey is survived by his brother, Mark Betcher, and a wild variety of friends. A memorial will be held on Saturday, November 18th at 1747 Quesada Ave from 11:30am - 4:30pm. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to UCSF Cancer Research https://giving.ucsf.edu/funds/cancer

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Oct. 29, 2017
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