22 June 2022

Jane Ann Simmons Edginton (1936–2022)

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008

We were saddened to hear of the passing, on 1 May 2022, of long-time BAHA board member and past president Jane Edginton.

Jane spent almost her entire life in Berkeley. Both her parents were born in Fresno and studied at U.C. Berkeley. Jane, however, was born in Bishop, Inyo County, where her father, Albert Edward Simmons, a civil engineer working for the California Division of Highways, was stationed at the time. The young family soon returned to the East Bay, residing first in Albany and then on Berkeley’s Northside, where Jane grew up.

Jane’s mother, Dorothy Delaware Peters, was a librarian, and Jane developed literary habits from a young age. At Berkeley High School, she contributed articles to the Daily Jacket. Beginning with her freshman year at U.C., she served on the editorial staff of the Blue and Gold and joined the Pelly Girls, a squad of coeds who sold the fabled college humor magazine California Pelican on campus. She also joined the Mu chapter of Chi Omega and was a member of the U.C. Rally Committee.

After graduating in June 1958 with a Bachelor’s degree in History, Jane found work in the medical division of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games Committee. In June 1960, she married John Arthur Edginton (1935–2008), a U.C. graduate who had just completed three years of service in the U.S. Navy and was about to enter Boalt Hall School of Law.

Both John and Jane Edginton developed a deep interest in architecture, and especially in the buildings of Bernard Maybeck. In 1975, they fulfilled their dream of owning a Maybeck-designed residence when they acquired the J.B. Tufts House (1931) in La Loma Park, at the heart of Maybeck Country. In 2002, the house was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on their initiative.

Jane joined the BAHA board of directors in 1986 and served as BAHA’s president in 1992–1994. For many years, she chaired the Events Committee and the Preservation Awards Committee. She was the go-to person when out-of-town groups approached BAHA with requests for guided tours of Maybeck Country.

An enthusiastic outdoorswoman, Jane was an excellent skier, hiker, and mountain climber. In 1992, the Sierra Club awarded her a Senior Emblem for having climbed 106 peaks on the club’s Peaks List. She and John led many Sierra Club excursions, both here and abroad.

Intrepid in every other way, Jane never took to computers and the Internet. To the last, she typed her Preservation Awards lists and House Tour guidebook articles the old-fashioned way, just as she had done at Berkeley High, and so we shall fondly remember her.


Blogger Jerri Holan said...

Nice words, thanks Daniella.

23 June, 2022 14:04  
Anonymous Stephanie Manning said...

Jane Edginton was like a mentor to me. I wanted to be like her.....smart, fit, healthy, gracious and worshipful of our beautiful Berkeley architecture. She was my idea of the consummate Berkeleyan, loyal and true to this "our fair city" and to the concept of City Beautiful espoused by Maybeck, Keeler, Morgan, Leola Hall and the others that we celebrate at BAHA. Active as far back as the mid-1970s, she was always there helping out whether at BAHA lectures, BAHA house tours or at BAHA Board meetings. She was there. How we will all miss her. I will never forget her and what she stood for.

26 June, 2022 11:07  
Anonymous Charles Bucher said...

I knew her when I volunteered at BAHA c. 1989. She always seemed like a nice person. Sorry to see her go.

29 June, 2022 16:15  
Blogger Jerri Holan said...

“You’ve never heard the expression high jinks before?” she asked.

“Never,” I replied.

“Oh dear,” Jane said, “I have just dated myself!” Then she patiently proceeded to explain the colloquial term during one of BAHA’s long Board meetings. So began our friendship which extended to our memberships in another long-standing Berkeley group, the Town & Gown Club. Between the two groups, we saw each other regularly and kept up our relationship after I resigned from the Board.

I sketched a stair for her Berkeley Path Wanderer group so they could receive City funding. Once she found out my family spent summer weeks near Tahoe, she invited me to visit her property there where her Dad had built their family house. Unfortunately, my hectic schedule never gave me the opportunity. After John passed away, she constantly asked me for advice on her properties and repairs and I endlessly told her she needed to get a cell phone and learn how to use computers. Alas, I’m not sure any of my advice helped as she rarely followed it.

We discovered a mutual love of ballet and ended up making Smuin’s Christmas Ballet an annual affair. She always purchased the tickets in August but we took turns picking out restaurants before the show. I remember the year she bought a Clipper Card: she was so proud of herself that she could finally give up driving to San Francisco.

Polite, gracious, always smiling and soft-spoken, Jane nevertheless held very strong opinions on just about everything. She had a long history with so many things we were both involved in that I always asked her opinion before volunteering any efforts. And once initiated, I always included her in the fun. Happily, she always joined. Her last contribution resulted in her neighbor, Allen Fish, talking to our Town & Gown Club. The pandemic delayed the program and, sadly, Jane never got to hear his delightful discussion of Annie and Grinnell. We dedicated the program to her and in spite of everyone’s doubts, it was one of the Club’s most popular talks – as she knew it would be. Afterward, I imagined her mischievous smile.

I truly miss Jane’s positive energy and her hopeful encouragement. But I especially miss her high jinks.

19 August, 2022 12:27  

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