Courtesy of Sarah Stephens

Jane Switzer Stephens helped start KVIE and was on its board, and boards of other groups.

Obituary: Jane Switzer Stephens was a dedicated volunteer

Published: Friday, Jul. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 5, 2013 - 6:31 am

Jane Switzer Stephens, a dedicated volunteer who was active in community groups and international humanitarian efforts, died June 28 of kidney cancer, her family said. She was 91.

Mrs. Stephens was a hands-on leader in Sacramento service and nonprofit groups for many years. After working with other volunteers to establish public TV station KVIE, she oversaw a fundraising campaign and was elected to the board in 1965.

She served on the board of United Crusade, a regional fundraising program, and was honored for community service by United Way in 1974. She was on the boards of Planned Parenthood Sacramento and the Sacramento Interfaith Service Bureau.

"When she got involved with a group, it wasn't long before she became a decision-maker or adviser," said her daughter Sarah.

Mrs. Stephens had a lifelong interest in helping others and connecting with people of different backgrounds, cultures and faiths. She attended a UNESCO conference on East-West cultural relations in 1957. Three years later, she spent seven months in Cairo while her husband advised a United Nations program on civil service in Egypt.

She hosted foreign visitors to California as a member of People to People. She traveled to many countries with her husband, including visits to Presbyterian Church missions and Asian refugee camps in 1982. She assisted refugees in Sacramento, spoke out on international peace and justice issues, and helped create an Interfaith Service Bureau store that sold textile goods made by Hmong refugees.

"She was always a global citizen," her daughter said.

The former Jane Switzer was born on Sept. 5, 1921, and raised in Berkeley. Her father died when she was 12, and her mother was a social worker and suffragette who instilled values of public service and progressive thinking.

She began volunteering in the early 1940s, helping soldiers in World War II with the American Red Cross in Carmel. She married an Army officer, Roy W. Stephens, and settled in Sacramento in 1946. She raised three children with her husband, a career California civil servant who retired as assistant secretary to the State Personnel Board.

Mrs. Stephens was a longtime member of Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. She served as a deacon and was active in interfaith peace and service programs.

She spent nearly a decade caring for her husband, who had Alzheimer's disease, until his death in 2000. She advocated for residents with dementia and Alzheimer's disease at The Chateau at River's Edge, an assisted-living center, where she lived for the last three years.

"To her dying day, she was standing up for others," her daughter said.

Mrs. Stephens is survived by her children, Chandra of Sebastopol, Richard of San Luis Obispo, and Sarah of France; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. July 20 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1300 N St., Sacramento.

Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.

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