Joan Cooley Kiefer
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.