- Reporters Desk
October 13, 1954 to April 14, 2014
Deanne Elise Pernell had a lifelong interest in social justice and education.
Reared in Southern California, she helped create an ecology club, while attending high school at Palos Verdes Peninsula. She was a founding member of the Santa Cruz Women Against Rape, while attending Santa Cruz. The organization gave support to women who survived assaults. This organization educated the community to deepen understanding of the causes of rape. It developed alternatives to the civil justice system. She continued to be a part of group for almost 20 years.
She also was part of the Women’s Student Teaching Collective. That collective presented the first Introduction to Women’s Studies class at UCSC.
After graduating from UCSC, Pernell worked through the apprenticeship program of the local plumbers union.
She also worked as a substitute care provider at the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center and the Simcha Preschool. She partook in the starting of the local Child Assault Prevention Program, helping children develop safety strategies.
In 1980, she met her life partner, Jan Shirchild. The two women married on December 18, 2013. The women had two children together, Brian Thomas and Marleena Brown.
In 1987, Pernell went back to UCSC to complete her teaching credential and worked as a third grade teacher at MacQuiddy School in Watsonville for 20 years. She was a strong advocate for bilingual education. She also served as a representative for her local teachers union.
Deanne was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and metastatic breast cancer in 2009. She died on April 14, 2014 after a procedure to repair the mitral valve in her heart.
Her wife Jan Shirchild; her father, Godfrey Pernell, former Mayor of the City of Rolling Hills; her son, Brian Thomas; Marleena Brown, who she considered a daughter; grandchildren Alexcia Martinez and Izaya Thomas Martinez; brothers, Gary CEO of Dental Health Services of Long Beach (Wilhemina Condon) of Seattle, Washington; Wayne (Shannon) in Benicia, Jeff in Missoula, Montana; sister and brother-in-law Lee Berthel and Joseph Burton of Oakland; nieces and nephews: Lia Pernell, Amelia Pernell, Nicole Burton, Cinya Burton, Jacob Pernell, Lucas Pernell, Daniella Lombardi, Sarina Pernell, Trinity Lombardi, Miranda Pernell and Xander Pernell survive her.
Her memorial takes place at 2 p.m. May 3 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Aptos, Calif.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in her memory to WomenCARE, Breast Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Fund, and/or Pesticide Action Network.