Joan Coo­ley Kiefer

San Francisco Chronicle - - LIFE TRIBUTES -

Joan Coo­ley Kiefer, a for­mer read­ing teacher in Cas­tro Val­ley and Hay­ward ele­men­tary schools, died on Au­gust 12 in her Cas­tro Val­ley home along­side her hus­band Frank and other fam­ily mem­bers.

Joan, 87, was born Joan Crys­tal Coo­ley in Red­field, South Dakota, raised in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and was grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Colorado, Boul­der, where she ma­jored in ed­u­ca­tion.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from CU Boul­der, Joan moved to Cal­i­for­nia and, while rais­ing her fam­ily, con­tin­ued her ed­u­ca­tion, re­ceiv­ing her teach­ing cre­den­tial from Cal State Hay­ward (now Cal State East Bay) and the “De­gree of Mas­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion with Con­cen­tra­tion in Read­ing...” from Holy Names Col­lege in Oak­land.

Joan and her hus­band Frank Kiefer, a jour­nal­ism ma­jor whom she met at the Univer­sity of Colorado, were mar­ried on Septem­ber 1, 1951, and had three sons: Michael, Marc and John. All three grad­u­ated from cam­puses of the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Michael from UC Davis, Marc from UC Berke­ley, and John from Davis. Michael went on to earn a PhD in bio­chem­istry at Davis and John a Mas­ter of Arts in English (Cre­ative Writ­ing) from San Fran­cisco State Univer­sity.

Joan re­ceived high praise from her col­leagues. Jay Row­ley, Joan’s prin­ci­pal at Bow­man School, Hay­ward, said Joan was “very ef­fec­tive work­ing both with stu­dents and teach­ers. She cre­ated ways to work with kids. Teach­ers trusted her ad­vice. She even ad­vised me.”

Joan and an­other read­ing teacher, Pat Lands­berg, worked to­gether for over 10 years un­der a state law de­signed to raise the read­ing lev­els of pupils in kinder­garten through sixth grades, in­clud­ing those who spoke a se­cond lan­guage or had other read­ing prob­lems.

“Joan was a per­fect per­son for this pro­gram,” Ms. Lands­berg said. “Her meth­ods helped stu­dents strug­gling with read­ing and com­pre­hen­sion, and taught them to en­joy books, which was her pri­mary goal.” Joan and Pat also or­ga­nized a pro­gram that mo­ti­vated chil­dren to read at home.

“Many stu­dents who learned to love read­ing un­der our pro­gram still re­mem­ber and love Mrs. Kiefer, “Pat added.

The Kiefers, who have been mar­ried 66 years, have lived in Cas­tro Val­ley since 1956. Be­sides Frank, Joan is sur­vived by her son Michael and his wife Mary Jane Kiefer of Wal­nut Creek; grand­son David, his wife Trissie and two great­grand­chil­dren, Ben and Erik Kiefer of Danville; grand­daugh­ter Chris­tine and her hus­band Ja­son Di­et­rich, great-grand­son Jakob and great-grand­daugh­ter Lily of Con­cord; nieces Crys­tal Coo­ley of Scotts­dale, AZ and Carolyn Stamm of Vir­ginia Beach, VA, and nephew Craig Coo­ley of Joliet, IL.

A me­mo­rial re­cep­tion and lun­cheon will be held be­gin­ning at 11 a.m. Sun­day, Septem­ber 24, at the Kiefer home. All friends of Joan are in­vited.

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