Jayne Elizabeth Giffin, 93, passed away peacefully on May 22, 2019, in Livermore, Calif., after suffering a stroke. She will be remembered by her family and friends for her quick mind, remarkable adventures, passion for education, and deeply-rooted faith.
Jayne was born on May 8, 1926, in Johnson City, N.Y., to William Williams and Nellie (Tompkins) Williams. Jayne was the middle of three children. She was editor of her high school newspaper, and tied for top honors in math her senior year. She was a graduate of Houghton College where she earned a B.A. in Psychology, played basketball and was a cheerleader for the men’s basketball team. Jayne earned a Master of Arts in School Administration from the University of Michigan in 1954, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration from Brigham Young University in 1977.
Jayne was a dedicated and gifted educator. She taught second grade in Flint, Mich., and on a military base in French Morocco during the Korean War. She taught 1st-3rd grades in Spokane, Wash., before becoming an elementary school principal there. The summer that Alaska became a state, she taught education students at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka. Following her divorce, she moved to California where she taught in Davis and Santa Clara, where she supervised student teachers. From 1970-1989 Jayne worked for San Jose Unified School District where she was principal of Empire Gardens Elementary School, principal of Brett Harte Middle School, and head of the testing department for the district. At age 70, she was invited to teach education students in Moscow for a semester. She was known for her innovative programs and wholistic, student-centered approach to education, which were validated by rising student achievement under her leadership.
Jayne’s love of travel was ignited in French Morocco. She and her son, Randy, traveled around the world from August 1964 - June 1965. They lived with a German family for four months, visited East Berlin, traveled by ship from Italy to Pakistan, visited her brother who was teaching in Kandahar, Afghanistan, then traveled to India, Thailand, Hong Kong and Tokyo before returning home. The following year, they drove to Mexico City with her brother’s family. Jayne and her husband Bill participated in the Pacific Cup race to Hawaii in 1990 in their sailing yacht, Our Destiny, and also traveled extensively in China and Russia. Jayne enjoyed cruises across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal (twice), and up the Mississippi River on a paddle wheel steamer. Jayne and her husband Al traveled to Australia and New Zealand, and she visited Costa Rica three times.
Jayne’s Christian faith was central to who she was. She loved being part of a church community and she enthusiastically invited people to attend church with her. She was fond of The Voice translation of the Bible and gifted copies of it to everyone she knew. She took delight in attending the church where her son is the pastor.
In addition to traveling, Jayne loved to read, play bridge and dominoes, play the piano, research family genealogy, work sudoku puzzles, ski, sail, knit, and listen to music.
Jayne married Les Beach in 1948, and they divorced in 1963. She married William Brill in 1977 and was widowed in 1994. She married Alva Giffin in 1998 and was widowed in 2010. Jayne was preceded in death by her brothers, William and Donald Williams. Jayne is survived by her son, Randy (Joan) McGrady-Beach of Dublin, Calif.; grandchildren Ian (Jessica) McGrady-Beach of Maple Valley, Wash., Emily (Zach) André of Austin, Texas, and Alyssa McGrady-Beach of New Braunfels, Texas; great-grandchildren Lincoln and Morgan McGrady-Beach and Immanuel, Ezra and Malakai André; as well as stepchildren Bill and Heidi Brill and Paul Giffin, numerous stepgrandchildren, niece Kathy Fossdahl, and three nephews.
Special thanks to the staff at Quail Gardens in Livermore and Hope Hospice for their loving care.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 22, at 11 a.m. at John Knox Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jayne’s memory to John Knox Presbyterian Church, 7421 Amarillo Road, Dublin, CA 94568.