Jean Ohme M.A. ’75 was the daughter of an immigrant father from Latvia who believed that you make your own success—and didn’t believe in going to college. Jean didn’t listen to her father, though, and was determined to go to college. She worked in a shoe store, she did surveys, she found scholarships, and somehow she managed to get her bachelor’s in English from UCLA and later a master’s in special education from SCU. Fighting for what she believed in was a theme throughout her life. When she believed something was worth fighting for, quitting was not an option. Jean was a kind, 5-foot-tall woman who had real power and used it judiciously. She spent her life working hard to help students with special needs feel great about themselves and reach for the stars in their academic and personal pursuits. She was a public school resource specialist and later a co-founder, along with her husband, Herman Ohme, of School For Independent Learners (SIL), which spawned Lydian Academy and Tilden Preparatory School. Collectively, these three schools have saved the lives of thousands of students. This was exactly what she wanted to do in her life. She absolutely loved seeing students thrive when they had been previously shut down and discouraged. There is a football stadium full of people who can say that she had a hand in their success. During the Vietnam War, Jean’s brother Herbert Magidson started a peace movement, and one of his slogans was, “Individuals against the crime of silence.” Jean loved her brother dearly, and she embraced his message throughout her life. She always stepped up, even when it meant putting herself at risk. She was tough, and she got even tougher when she saw people in need or a social injustice occurring. Jean lived her 89 years to the fullest. Even during her last few years battling dementia, she remained positive and supportive with the help of the wonderful staff at Palo Alto Commons. She was one of the kindest, most compassionate and determined people the world has ever known. She fought for every individual she cared for, especially her grandchildren and other family members. Jean passed away on Feb. 2, 2018, and is survived by her children; Rhonda Racine, Karen Hobbs, and Steve Ohme, and five glorious grandchildren.

08 Nov 2018