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Jonathan Pharazyn ’76

April 11, 2021, in Mountain View, California, in a bicycle accident.

The only child of Lucille and Philip Pharazyn ’49, Jonathan was born in San Francisco and spent his early years in the San Carlos Hills and Honolulu, where he became an avid surfer. His family returned to the Bay Area, where he graduated from high school. After attending Reed for two years, he finished his bachelor’s degree in history and Spanish at the University of Illinois and went on to get master’s degrees in elementary education and education administration. Jonathan became active in politics and social justice movements addressing racism and poverty while living in Chicago during the ’70s.

Returning to the Bay Area in the ’80s, he taught in Redwood City schools before landing a job as school administrator in the Mountain View Whisman School District. He championed the needs of underserved students, and his bilingual skills afforded him the opportunity to address the issues and hardships of English language learners and immigrant families. He was a strong partner with the police department, working with them on interventions for troubled youth. A police officer who worked with him said Jonathan had a passion for kids, never gave up on them, and always granted them the benefit of the doubt and the resources they needed to turn their lives around.

Jonathan served as president of the district teachers’ union, taking on the difficult role of improving salaries and working conditions for more than 200 teachers in the district. Jonathan capped off his 35-year career in education teaching at Monta Loma Elementary School. He stayed active in schools as a substitute teacher into retirement, when, drawn to the peace and beauty of nature, he became a passionate gardener. He was also an enthusiastic outdoorsman who enjoyed hiking, kayak-ing, surfing, scuba diving, and biking. He is survived by his wife, Ruth Norris; his children, Lilia and Fabio Pharazyn; and his stepsons, Ben and Pat Graves.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2021

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