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Jaques Kaswan

Jaques Kaswan Obituary
Jaques W. Kaswan

June 14, 1924 - January 28, 2015

Jaques passed away at his Berkeley home on January 28, age 90, mentally sharp and independent to the end.
He was born June 14, 1924 in Vienna, Austria. In 1936, as anti-Semitism intensified, Jaques and his mother left Vienna, spending two years in a small town in the mountains in Italy and then more years in refugee camps in France. Eventually, they immigrated to New York, where he worked in a hotel to support himself and his mother.
Drafted to fight in World War II, he joined the intelligence services where he made use of the language skills gained as a refugee. After the war, he joined his parents and brother, now reunited, in Los Angeles. In 1949, Jaques met and married the enduring love of his life, Ruth, with whom he shared 49 years of inseparable companionship until her death in 1999.
Although he never attended high school, Jaques earned a BA at night from UCLA and went on to earn a Masters degree from the New School for Social Research and a PhD in psychology from Washington University at St. Louis. He taught at Yale, UCLA, and Ohio State University. In 1977, he and Ruth founded the Urban Alternatives Group and published the magazine Humanizing City Life. He retired from OSU in 1979 and moved to California, where he developed cooperatives and on-going institutional structures to help them thrive and grow. In 1981 he co-founded the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation to establish housing cooperatives for low-income residents and in 1998 was instrumental in founding the Arizmendi bakery collectives now located throughout the Bay Area. Meanwhile, he continued scholarly writing on the centrality of cooperation, not just self-interest, as a basic human trait.
Jaques will be remembered by the many people whose lives he touched over the years, including his co-op collaborators and members of the Walnut House Cooperative where he lived for 35 years. He will be deeply missed by his daughter, Alice (Rick), his sons, Mark and Dan, and his grandchildren Zo?, Aaron, and Paul. We will be forever inspired by his perseverance in the face of adversity, his vision and initiative, his sense of decency and justice, his kindness and respect for all, and his sense of humor.
A memorial celebrating his life will be held March 14, 2-4 pm, at the All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 10, 2015
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