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Jenifer Diers Born March 2nd, 1958, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, died peacefully at home on July 19th in Berkeley, CA, surrounded by her spouse of 14 years, Esther Martino, her father, close friend Robert Beatty, and other family members and friends. Jenifer was passionate about life and deeply involved and influential in several communities-as a social worker, educator, literary enthusiast and practicing Nichiren Buddhist. In all of these communities, Jenifer had deep and meaningful friendships. Her intelligence and compassion helped others see possibilities for themselves and grow and change in positive ways. Jenifer was a lifelong learner and teacher, an avid reader and writer. She grew up in the Chicago area and headed to the Bay Area in the 1980's. She attended City College of San Francisco and transferred to UC Berkeley to graduate in Anthropology in 1986. Soon after, she earned an MSW from Smith College, which led to her twenty-year career as a devoted Child Welfare Worker and Supervisor for Alameda County Children's and Family Services. Jenifer assisted hundreds of families to reunite under challenging life circumstances. She mentored many of her colleagues, offering creative insights and new approaches to the field of child welfare. She earlier served the LGBT community by leading coming out groups at the Pacific Center. Because of Jenifer's love of literature and desire to teach, from 2003-06 she completed her Master's thesis, The Whole Writer: Making a Case for Creative Writing in Freshman Composition, and achieved her M.A. in English Literature at Cal State East Bay, while also teaching freshman composition. Jenifer then taught writing to students in the Social Work Department of San Jose State University. Jenifer practiced and studied Nichiren Buddhism for 30 years, in a community that provided her much support and friendship. She was an active member of the SGI-USA and served as the Berkeley West Women's Division vice-chapter leader. Her spiritual practice allowed her to realize her dreams and to contribute positively to making the world a better place. Jenifer loved engaging with people and sharing life experiences. She found the love of her life, Esther, and they spent 14 happy years together enjoying the company of friends, traveling, hiking, and seeing films, particularly the SF Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Jenifer always had a book in hand, cherished her book club, and relished a good literary discussion. She participated in the Redwood Writer's Group. Jenifer died from complications of Ovarian cancer, first diagnosed in 2009. Just as she lived her life, Jenifer faced her death with tremendous courage, acceptance and grace, which profoundly affected everyone around her. Jenifer's laughter and bright smile will be deeply missed by the many people whose lives she touched. She is survived by her spouse, Esther Martino, father, Arthur Diers, brother, Peter Diers, and his wife, Lynn, and children, Christina and Zachary. Her mother, Evelyn Schaefer Diers, died in 2005. A Bay Area memorial service to celebrate Jenifer's life will be held on Sunday, August 26th, from 2-6 pm at the Frances Albrier Community Center in Berkeley. Donations in Jenifer's memory can be made to the Women's Cancer Resource Center in Oakland, CA, or to the organization of your choice.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on July 29, 2012
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