Elizabeth Klein Jimenez
Elizabeth Klein Jimenez
Elizabeth took her last breath from this earthly place on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 in the evening. During the moment of her passing she was surrounded by the love of her best friend, Joan, and her dedicated caregiver, Crystal. Pumpkin, her treasured orange tabby, was curled up beside her. She succumbed to Parkinson’s disease.
Elizabeth was 84 years old, born in May of 1928, to her parents, Caroline and Anton Klein. She grew up in Oakland. When she was in high school, they moved to Bethel Island on the San Joaquin Delta because it reminded them of their native Netherlands with the levees and the tule fog in the wintertime. She completed her high school years at Liberty High School in Brentwood.
In 1947, Elizabeth entered the College of the Pacific (now the University of the Pacific) with an art major and a social studies minor. There she was introduced to stage design, lettering, layout and ceramics. Two years later, she enrolled at San Francisco State College (now University) and earned a teaching credential in art and social science. In 1951, she was accepted into the graduate school in art at the University of California in Berkeley.
One of her many interesting visiting instructors was the abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning. After earning her master’s degree, Elizabeth won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Europe. It was at this time she met her husband-to-be, Albert Jimenez, who was an engineering student at Berkeley. Instead of continuing her studies in Europe, she and Al married. They settled in Pleasant Hill. One of their passions was enjoying dance. While living in Pleasant Hill, Elizabeth acquired a position teaching physical education at her old high school in Brentwood.
Being creative, she naturally began to teach modern dance. She was able to fall back on her training in stage design and she learned lighting for dance theater productions. In 1961, Al and Elizabeth moved to San Francisco where she continued to teach and produce dance theater at Balboa High School. She would design and make the sets and man the lights with the help of her students for the sold-out performances.
Her thirst for painting never waned as she continued to take classes in art after school and in the summertime at the San Francisco Art Institute. “Abstract Expressionism” was her interest of choice. In fact, Al had a studio made for her on the lower level of their house because she never stopped painting. A few years before retiring from the teaching profession, she began teaching art at Balboa where she revived all of her prior academic training and instilled an interest in art to her students.
Soon after retiring, Elizabeth moved to Sonoma, a place that she and Al had enjoyed so much as an occasional getaway from life in the city. She moved to Sonoma Greens and she rented an artist studio in town. She was finally able to concentrate fulltime on her artistic passion and painted with a new enthusiasm!
On her journey through life, she made many friends. While teaching in the city, she developed very special friendships which have remained solid and everlasting to this day. She is survived by three nieces and one nephew.
During her bout with Parkinson’s disease she was cared for adoringly by her dear friend, Joan, and her beyond wonderful caregivers, Arminda, Conchita, Crystal and Ronnie. Elizabeth was one smart cookie. She was fun and sassy and didn’t miss a trick. Sometimes I wondered if she had eyes in the back of her head!
She requested that no services be held.
Her cremation has been handled by the Neptune Society and her final disposition will be at sea. Rest in peace, Elizabeth, and always remember to dance.
Any donations may be sent to the Hospice By The Bay, 190 W. Napa St., Sonoma, CA 95476.
A celebration of her life will be at her home on Friday, Jan. 18, at noon.