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Jane Kinzler

1946 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Jane Kinzler Obituary
Jane R. Kinzler


In Jane's own words: After a joyous and well-lived life here on Earth, Jane Rebecca Kinzler crossed over to enjoy adventures in spiritual realms and beyond on November 20, 2015 at the age of 69. Jane endeavored to hold true to a life-long commitment to social justice, kindness, compassion, pro-choice, and humor. She aspired to lead a mindful, principled, and caring life. She was able to greet her death with both grace and dignity, ably assisted by David L. Brown, her filmmaker husband and life partner since 1981, and by a host of loving friends, spiritual guides, family, and hospice services. All the while, she has been able to hold true to her vow to do at least "one bold thing a year."

Born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, she enjoyed beginning her life journey in an exciting urban setting, that she would always consider her home base.

When she was eight years old, a family reversal in fortune resulted in a move to the suburban community of Rockville Centre, Long Island, where she received an excellent education in academics and social justice, including sitting in at the local Woolworth's in solidarity with the Civil Rights Movement.

The Upper West Side drew her back for college at Barnard. After graduating from Barnard College (Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude), she spent a year working as a librarian in Paris, and returned to a graduate program in English Literature at Columbia.

Swept up in an exciting and tumultuous political climate of the 1960's, she was actively involved with the Civil Rights and the anti-war movements and the 1968 Columbia University student strike where she was exposed to the Weather Underground and radical political thought. She came to believe that a political/ social revolution was imminent, and dismissed preparing for a conventional career. Although she never got her doctorate in English Literature, she ultimately continued to speak English for the rest of her life.

Realizing that she was not cut out for the straight academic path to a doctorate and a life of teaching in an academic setting, she "dropped out" and became a teacher (known as Jane Macrame for her counter-culture classes) in the free school movement in NYC, and collaborated in the writing of "Starting Your Own High School" (Random House) about her experience teaching at the Elizabeth Street Cleaners Free School.

Soon wanderlust got the better of her, and she moved to Cambridge, MA to study Tai Chi, massage, yoga, and the fine art of waitressing at Grendel's Den. Afterwards, she found herself carving candles in Rockport, MA and enjoying a hippie lifestyle in Gloucester, playing dulcimer music with friends in a teepee by the fire pit, driving for Meals on Wheels, working against nuclear power, studying Sufism -- the religion of the heart -- and committing to a sustainable vegetarian lifestyle (except she could never give up filet mignon and lobster on the occasional visit to her family in Manhattan).

One day, as she realized that her once-politically correct stance against shaving her legs was forcing her to be "oppressed by her own liberation," she packed her wooden trunk and hitched a ride in a friend's van and was off to the golden state of California to begin life anew in 1978.

After working a variety of odd jobs in San Francisco, Jane was grateful to be hired into the non-profit world of senior services and the development of low-income senior housing. She spent several fulfilling and enjoyable years working at Francis of Assisi Senior Community as the Activity Director (alternatively known as the "dean of fun" or the "geezer pleaser"), working for the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, then later working for TODCO, a formidable non-profit developer of senior and supportive housing in San Francisco's South of Market.

She then went on to work for Brown & Toland, coordinating the HIV program and the commercial and senior wellness programs. She rounded out her professional career with the SF Human Services Agency, as an investigator in the Office of Civil Rights, and an analyst in the Workforce Development Division managing and implementing re-entry-to-work programs.

But ultimately, most important to a life well-lived are loving friends, family, and a principled life. One of Jane's happiest and most memorable days was September 19, 1981, Solidarity Day at Justin Hermann Plaza in San Francisco, where she first met her future life partner and husband, independent filmmaker David L. Brown. While Jane was distributing handmade mimeographed leaflets, she became impressed with David's three-colored flyers advertising his ten-part series, "The Nuclear Film Forum," featuring films, speakers, and debates at the S.F. First Unitarian Church on the perils of nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear war and nuclear waste. She immediately recycled her leaflets and began to distribute David's. Of that most memorable and momentous day, David has often been quoted, "Never skimp on your leaflets!"

From that day forward, Jane felt bathed by her partnership with David in love, life, and filmmaking. Jane was honored to be the nine-to-fiver and provider of health care stability in this filmmaking partnership, which has resulted in the production of over 15 broadcast films ranging from such topics as older surfers following their bliss ("Surfing for Life"); world-class women drummer, Barbara Borden in "Keeper of the Beat"; extraordinary senior peace activists (See www.DLBfilms); and three Emmy-Award winning films on the wild saga of the new Bay Bridge. Jane was honored to join David as active members of the vibrant Bay Area community of independent documentary filmmakers.

After retirement in July 2013, Jane continued to write limericks, light verse, and poems for retiring employees celebrating staff accomplishments. She remained active in two book groups, a memoir writing class, along with gardening, music, hiking, participating in the wonderful arts and music community of Brisbane, performing in The Children's Drama Service, a mostly women's theatre group performing for local special needs children, working on efforts to save blessed San Bruno Mountain, enjoying friends and family, theatre, music, water aerobics, singing, and ballet.

Sadly, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer only three months after her official retirement date. While this resulted in a slight adjustment of plans, Jane was able to carry on with her spirit of peace and joy into her remaining few years, both in enjoying her life of retirement and in her mindful welcoming of transcendence to the inevitable next phase of her journey.

As a lifelong environmentalist, she believes that her cancer (and the global explosion of cancer) was a result of the planetary pollution, and urges everyone to take on the serious role of stewarding and saving the planet. Jane was only one among the many canaries in the coalmine.

Up until her death, she was involved as a board member in the planning for a Village model in Brisbane, CA, to provide services to assist seniors to live in their homes for as long as it was safe and feasible.

Donations are welcome in her name to Brisbane Village Helping Hands (P.O. Box 734, Brisbane, CA 94005) or to San Bruno Mountain Watch (http://www.mountainwatch.org/sbmw-donation-page/) which has been working for 50 years to preserve San Bruno Mountain.

Jane is survived by her sweet loving husband, David L. Brown, who was a true support and caregiver, as well as her many dear friends, guides and family - sister Lucy Lasky (Joel Linchitz), nieces Nina Lasky (and her partner Kimberley Adams) and Dara Caputo (Larry Caputo), grandnieces Kayla Caputo and Juliana Caputo, sister-in-law Janis "Babes" Wheeler (David Wheeler), nephew Jordan Wheeler, nieces Lacey Wheeler (partner Paul Kirby), Whitney Gilles (Eric Gilles) and grandniece Quinn Harper Gilles. Jane is pre-deceased by her parents, Frederick and Ethel Kinzler (fondly known as the Mertzs).
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 22, 2015
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