My Surf Mum

 

Me, my mother and my brother Nicky in West Hollywood before a wedding in 1979.

I wrote about my mother recently in a Surf Mum posting. I spent a lot of time with my mother before she passed away. But as I wrote in my story about her, much of my childhood was spent at the beach with in the company of my mother, my dad and brother Nick.


Josephine Alexandra Fournier Dedina, 73, passed away at her home near the beach Feb. 23 from ovarian cancer. Known as Jo to family and friends, she lived in Imperial Beach with her husband of 54 years, Michel Dedina.

She was born in London, England, in 1937, the youngest of three daughters of Lou and Dorothy Fournier.

My mother and father on their wedding day in 1957 in New York City.

German bombing raids during World War II and the experience of being evacuated to the north of England later influenced her anti-war and environmental activism as well as a future career on behalf of children’s welfare.Upon moving to Imperial Beach with her family in 1971, Jo quickly became involved in ultimately successful efforts to preserve the Tijuana Estuary from development, during which time Jo met Mike and Patricia McCoy.

“I really loved her. I really did,” Patricia said.

The two woman had a lot in common. Both grew up in World War II England and shared a “wicked” sense of humor and love for the environment and justice.

“It’s hard to put it into words but she was a very spirited and principled person, and she taught her boys to fight for what was true and right and I think that it shows,” Patricia said. “She brought them up to respect these things, people rights and that sort of thing.”

My mother and my little brother Nicky at Carlsbad State Beach in the late 1960s.

In 1974, Jo and her family moved to El Salvador in Central America for a year.

There, she volunteered in an orphanage. The poverty and injustice witnessed played a role in her decision to earn a law degree at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

For 30 years, Jo specialized in juvenile justice to aid children and families across San Diego County as a public defender and judge pro tem.

The Dedinas traveled widely and lived in Paris, London, New York City, the Cornish Coast of England, Los Angeles, El Salvador and Morocco.

My brother Nicky, my mother, my Swiss Uncle Emile Moura and me. San Felipe around 1972 or 73.

Both warmhearted and quick-witted, Jo loved cooking and entertaining for family and friends.

After retiring, she spent time gardening, doting on her three grandsons, reading mystery novels and doing the daily crossword puzzle. She loved visiting family abroad, before advancing multiple sclerosis made travel too difficult.

Family members, including her niece, Zena and her husband, Martin Bray, frequently traveled from England to Imperial Beach to see her and help care for her as her health declined.

“She kept her spirit until the end and she never let people see it get her down except for close friends,” Patricia said.

Jo is survived by her husband, Michel Dedina, their two sons, Serge and Nick, and three grandsons, Israel, Daniel and Paolo.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, March 6 from 1–4 p.m. at the Dempsey Holder Safety Center in Imperial Beach in the lifeguard station.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Imperial Beach Boys & Girls Club.

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Comments

  1. Betsie Kaye says:

    I met Jo at the Coronado Pool and was instantly drawn to her when she spoke with the most lovely accdent. She told me the greatest stories about her travels, family, her work and most of all we shared stories about our grand children. We spent many wonderful times at dinner and woukd then go to a play.Jck and I would look forward to those wonderful evenings every month. Jo and I definitely had two very real things in common. We both had MS and could share our trials and tribulations concerning this insideous disease and also the fact that we so cherished our family and especially our grand children.We often shared stories and pictures and I will miss those special times with her. She is a very special friend which I will cherish forever. Rest in Peace my dear Jo and feel no pain …My Love to you my friend, Betsie

    • Thanks Betsie for your thoughtful comments about my mother. My mother loved you and Jack and our entire family is grateful for all the times you both spent with my parents. Your guidance on MS and your status as a super grandmother and mother was also a great comfort to my mother.

  2. F. Reneses says:

    Acabo de leerlo. Lo siento mucho querido amigo. Mi más sentido pésame. Un fuerte abrazo.

  3. Awfully well written piece of writing.

  4. I don’t disagree with this post!!!

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