Yes, that's what Jan looked like in her glamor days. She had the remarkable ability to project an aura of glamor even dragging about her portable oxygen tank.When she was wheeled out of surgery for lung cancer back in the 1990's, she looked up through her anesthetic fog and said to the nurse, "I'll be back in a minute. I'm going outside for a cigarette."
Jan Curran, a popular society editor and features writer for The Desert Sun and Palm Springs Life, died Tuesday at her assisted living home in Ventura — almost 35 years after being told she had six months to live.
Curran, 73, contracted lupus when she was a single mother of four kids working at the Contra Costa Times in the East Bay. 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, who was active in the Arthritis Foundation's Coachella Valley chapter.
“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 room.”
Current director of society coverage for The Desert Sun Betty Francis said Curran brought her own humor and glamour to the position.
“I thought Allene was the most fair and balanced and kind society (editor) we ever had,” she said.
“Jan came along with a little more edge and glamour 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 glamour.”
Funeral services in her native Walla Walla, Wash., are pending. Goldberg also said a memorial will probably be held in the Coachella Valley.
Besides Goldberg, she is survived by her brothers Stanley Barer of Seattle and Burl Barer of Stevenson Ranch; son Lee Goldberg of Calabasas; daughters Karen Dinino of Thousand Oaks and Linda Woods of Castaic; and three grandchildren