Obituary of Mary Jane Di Piero
Mary Jane Di Piero died June 15th at the age of 74 at her home in Nevada City with her daughter Daniela by her side. As Mary Jane completed her journey during her final days, she was surrounded with loving and devoted friends from near and far.
Mary Jane was the daughter of Georgia and Otto Epp, owners and publishers of a local newspaper in Tribune, Kansas. Getting the paper out was a weekly family endeavor that she shared with her parents and three brothers, David, Dan and John. Although she lived many places in the world, her roots were on the Kansas prairie in the small town of Tribune. Growing up, her smile was legendary, as was her running speed, although there were no competitive school sports for girls at that time.
After graduating from the University of Kansas, Mary Jane felt compelled to travel. She spent a year at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland on a Rotary scholarship, and then worked as a reports writer in the American Embassy in Seoul, Korea.
Mary Jane received a Master’s degree and secondary teaching credential from San Francisco State in 1972, where she met her husband, Simone Di Piero. They lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where their daughter, Daniela, was born on June 7, 1978. The family lived in Vermont and Chicago, IL, before moving to California.
Mary Jane was an editor, writer, researcher, teacher, facilitator, speaker, philosopher, and lifetime learner. She was described as a person who moved easily through ideas and found the common thread of good intent. Having encountered the Waldorf School movement in Chicago, Mary Jane founded Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Redwood City in 1984. She later served as both teacher and enrollment director at the elementary school. As a teacher,
Mary Jane was remembered for helping students gain knowledge and life skills – and perhaps more importantly, how to approach the world from a perspective of love and compassion. In 2007, Mary Jane helped to found Waldorf School of the Peninsula’s secondary school and worked as the school’s coordinator in its beginning years.
Throughout her life, Mary Jane edited several books, and most recently was the author of a monthly blog. As a writer, she described herself as a seeker and bridge-builder, a holder of paradox.
Mary Jane spread love, joy and vibrancy wherever she went; she gathered and cultivated lifelong devoted friends worldwide. Friends and colleagues saw her as having a warm and shining presence –incredibly strong and graceful, with a loving heart.
Feeling drawn to the new role of grandmother, Mary Jane moved to Nevada City. She was incredibly moved by the experience of holding her grandson Alder through his first full night on earth, forging a bond, not just with Alder, but also the preciousness of family.
Mary Jane’s family includes one daughter, Daniela Di Piero Steffke and husband Rob Steffke, of Nevada City, CA; two grandsons, Alder Steffke and Luca Steffke, of Nevada City; three brothers and their wives, David and Hilary Wiggin-Epp of Derwood, MD, Dan and Jan Epp of Tribune, KS, and John Epp and Donna Wilkin of Des Moines, IA; two nephews, Derek Epp and Aaron Epp, and one niece, Meagan Epp Butler; and many, many beloved cousins and friends.
A vigil has taken place in Nevada City, and additional memorial services are planned for later dates. Memorial contributions may be made at http://www.movimagine.org/movimiento/donate/ and can be attributed to “Mary Jane Memorial Fund.”
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