Jan Curran

My mother, Jan Curran, passed away on Monday night with her family at her side. Those of you who have read my blog for some time know she was an out-going, funny, and very talented woman and, like me and siblings, was a writer. She had been ill for some time and moved to Ventura to be closer to her family. She wrote about her new life in an active senior living home in a funny and touching self-published book entitled "Active Senior Living." The incredibly enthusiastic and warm response that she got from hundreds of readers all over the country gave her enormous comfort and joy over the last year. Bruce Fessier wrote a great obituary for my mother for the Palm Springs Desert Sun, the newspaper where she worked. Here it is.

Jan Curran, a popular society editor and features writer for The Desert Sun and Palm Springs Life, died Monday night at her assisted living home in Ventura — almost 35 years after being told she had six months to live.

Curran, 73, contracted lupus when she was a single mother of four kids working at the Contra Costa Times in the East Bay. Her youngest son, Tod Goldberg of La Quinta, said the family created a contingency plan for her death and “There was the very real sense that somebody would take us away.”

Curran had battled different types of cancer since 1995. But she also wrote two books and lived to see all of her children become published authors.

Her physician, Dr. Joel Hirschberg, said, “No matter what happened to her medically, she just had the most wonderful attitude.

“She had an illness that potentially could have been very severe and disabling, yet you would never know to look at her that she had any problems,” he said. “She would just smile and look at everybody else around her and just decide that her problems were very manageable compared to the rest of those out there.”

“I think she was the funniest, bravest person I ever knew,” added society journalist Gloria Greer. “Such great humor, and she was sick for so long.”

Curran, who covered society events for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune in the 1970s, joined the Jones Agency as an advertising executive in 1985 and soon began covering events for Palm Springs Life magazine.

She was The Desert Sun's society editor from 1988 to 1996, following Allene Arthur. She was the newspaper's last full-time society editor, but covered the rapid growth of social activities in country clubs and fundraising events as the desert population grew east from Palm Springs.

“There was a time that Jan knew everybody,” said Hirschberg, who was active in the Arthritis Foundation's Coachella Valley chapter.

“There wasn't a social event that would actually go on without her being involved in it. And she always brought bright sunshine to the room.”

Current director of society coverage for The Desert Sun Betty Francis said Curran brought her own humor and glamour to the position.

“I thought Allene was the most fair and balanced and kind society (editor) we ever had,” she said. “Jan came along with a little more edge and glamour and was pretty enough and well dressed enough to compete with the various celebrities she was interviewing. Looking at the big picture of society, she brought more glamour.”

Funeral services in her native Walla Walla, Wash., are pending. Goldberg also said a memorial will probably be held in the Coachella Valley.

Besides Goldberg, she is survived by her brothers Stanley Barer of Seattle and Burl Barer of Stevenson Ranch; son Lee Goldberg of Calabasas; daughters Karen Dinino of Thousand Oaks and Linda Woods of Castaic; and three grandchildren.


32 thoughts on “Jan Curran”

  1. The death of your mother is a life altering event. I remember my mother, lovingly, every day.
    I read your mother’s book, smiled through most of it, and found myself charmed by someone I didn’t know.
    I’m so sorry for her passing and your loss.

  2. Very sorry to hear this Lee, my prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. I am glad you had so much more time with her than the doctors envisaged 35 years ago. May she RIP.

  3. I am so grateful that you have shared your memories of this radiant woman with us all. Her legacy lives in her gifted and gracious children. My condolences to you and your family.

  4. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Lee. Thank you for sharing your mom’s laughter and joy of life with all of us through your posts.

  5. Lee,
    So sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I got my start writing obits so I know how hard it can be to do the subject justice. It was a well-done tribute to a life well-lived.

  6. Lee, I work at Cypress and did your Mom’s nails for the last 3 years, i want you to know that i will miss her very much. She was a wonderful women who never let her illness get her down. I did her nails last Friday and when i asked “how you feeling today Jan”, she gave me the same answer i’m feeling better. She was truly a beautiful person inside and out, we will all miss her very much
    . You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. Lee,
    My condolences to you and your family. I see so many young people these days with no direction or ambition in life. It’s such a credit to your mother that she was able to draw on her devotion to the written word to instill in her children both of those gifts.

  8. Goldberg, Sorry to hear about your mom passing away.
    I could tell by previous posts that you and your siblings have been close to one another and your mom. As a stranger I feel awkward extending my condolences, but I imagine the tightness of your family makes the process “easier” for you all.


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