Obituary: Jane Prendergast

Grandmother, world traveler, award-winning educator

Jane Prendergast, 81, of Claremont, died March 13.

Jane was born on December 14, 1941 to Eleanor and Gerard McGinty in New York. She grew up in the Bronx with her brothers James (“Jim”) and John (“Jack”), and her sister Patricia. The McGinty family spent summers at the family beach bungalow in Breezy Point, New York, where she developed many happy memories and a lifelong love of the sea.

She attended St. Barnabas High School and then went on to study history and education at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx. After graduating with her degree she embarked on a 30-plus year career in education.

She spent several years working in the New York City public school system as a teacher, and then in 1965 took a position as a teacher with the U.S. Department of Defense. As a teacher with the DOD, she began to cement her status as a world traveler. She lived and worked in Japan and Turkey. She traveled extensively throughout Asia and the Middle East, and developed friendships with fellow DOD teachers that lasted a lifetime.

On Thanksgiving Day 1966 she met Francis Prendergast, a U.S. Navy pilot, at the officer’s club in Yokosuka, Japan. She and Francis were married in 1969, and went on to have two delightful daughters, Meaghan and Siobhan. The couple made their permanent home in Southern California.

She earned a master’s degree in education at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and was a doctoral student at the Claremont Colleges as she continued her career in education in Southern California. She worked in the Duarte Unified School district for many years and then became principal of Coolidge Elementary School in San Gabriel. During her 15-plus years as principal of Coolidge the school achieved the status of California Distinguished School and instituted a cultural exchange program with the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners area of Arizona. She received many awards and accolades throughout her career, including being honored by the Santa Anita Reading Council and the International Reading Association for her outstanding efforts to promote literacy.

Her love of travel was a constant, and she loved seeing new places and learning about history. Over the years she took an educational exchange trip to China, visited the UK many times, explored the rest of Europe by river and land. For her retirement trip she toured the jungles of the Amazon, swimming in the morning and fishing for piranha in the afternoon. During her later years she took a trip to the Micronesian island of Palau to spend time with her daughter, went on fun family cruises to Mexico and Alaska, and explored every region of the U.S with friends, with some of her favorites being Hawaii and the Grand Canyon.

In 2006 she retired from her work as a principal, but did not slow down. For many years she had been involved with Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional society for women educators, and in retirement she took on several leadership roles within the organization. In 2016 she received the Delta Kappa Gamma Beta Mu chapter’s Woman In History Award for her contributions to DKG, to the community, and to children. She also spent her retirement volunteering; she gave weekly tutoring sessions to local children through the local nonprofit CLASP, and was a store worker at the Economy Shop in Claremont, which donated back to CLASP. She also enjoyed participating in the local walking group and attending Pilates workouts.

She was predeceased by her parents Eleanor and Gerard; brothers Jack and Jim; and her husband Francis.

She is survived by her daughters Meaghan (Paul) and Siobhan (Tim); granddaughters Moria, Cordelia, and Maeve; sister Patricia; four nieces and four nephews.

Services will be held at noon Saturday, June 17 at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 435 N. Berkeley Ave., Claremont, CA 91711, followed by a reception at the family home.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made by check to DKG Beta Mu Chapter, 2201 Stratford Way, La Verne, CA 91750.


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