Janice Barer Curran, a native of Walla Walla and an author and popular society editor for The (Palm Springs) Desert Sun, died Monday night in Ventura, Calif., almost 35 years after being told she had six months to live. Funeral services will be held on Friday, Nov. 5 at 1:30 p.m. at Mountain View Cemetery in Walla Walla.
Curran, 73, contracted lupus in 1976, when she was a single mother of four kids working at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her youngest son, Tod Goldberg of La Quinta, said the family created a contingency plan for her death and "There was the very real sense that somebody would take us away." Curran had battled different types of cancer since 1995. But she also wrote two books and lived to see all of her children become published authors.
Her physician, Dr. Joel Hirschberg, said, "No matter what happened to her medically, she just had the most wonderful attitude. She had an illness that potentially could have been very severe and disabling, yet you would never know to look at her that she had any problems," he said. "She would just smile and look at everybody else around her and just decide that her problems were very manageable compared to the rest of those out there."
"I think she was the funniest, bravest person I ever knew," added society journalist Gloria Greer. "Such great humor, and she was sick for so long." Curran, who covered society events for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune in the 1970s, joined the Jones Agency as an advertising executive in 1985, and soon began covering events for Palm Springs Life magazine. She was The Desert Sun's society editor from 1988 to 1996, following Allene Arthur. She was the newspaper's last full-time society editor, but covered the rapid growth of social activities in country clubs and fundraising events as the desert population grew east from Palm Springs.
"There was a time that Jan knew everybody," said Hirschberg. "There wasn't a social event that would actually go on without her being involved in it. And she always brought bright sunshine to the
Current director of society coverage for The Desert Sun Betty Francis said Curran brought her own humor and glamor to the position. "Jan came along with a little more edge and glamor and was pretty enough and well dressed enough to compete with the various celebrities she was interviewing. Looking at the big picture of society, she brought more glamor."
Curran was a proud graduate of Walla Walla High School and attended the University of Washington, where she was a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. She was a voracious reader and prolific writer with an insatiable love for travel who also worked tirelessly in the search for a cure to lupus, culminating in her being named, in 1992, as the first "Woman of Valor" by the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine.
Janice was preceded in death by her parents, David and Dorothy Barer, both of Walla Walla. She is survived by her brothers, Stanley (Alta) Barer of Seattle and Burl Barer of Stevenson Ranch, Calif.; and her four children and their spouses, Lee and Valerie Goldberg of Calabasas, Calif., Karen Dinino and Bill Dinino of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Linda and Dustin Woods of Castaic, Calif., and Tod and Wendy Goldberg of La Quinta, Calif., as well as three loving grandchildren and numerous cousins and dear friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Janice's name to the American Cancer Society or the Lupus Foundation of America.