Jill Cogan Bedecarre
Feb. 24, 1950-June 16, 2007
Jill Ann Cogan Bedecarre, 57, died June 16, 2007 in a Walnut Creek hospital surrounded by family and friends after the 17-month war she uncompromisingly waged with breast cancer. A journalist and public relations professional, she was Assistant Editor and Display Advertising Manager of the Clayton Pioneer newspaper since 2003. Jill lived in Clayton for the past 19 years with her husband Jay Bedecarre and their four children in the Dana Hills home where she applied her personal flair to host gatherings too numerous to count and which she creatively redecorated in recent years.
She was born in Elizabeth, NJ to John and Marie Cogan, who lovingly raised Jill and her older brother Jack in nearby Avenel. She graduated St. Mary's High School, Perth Amboy, NJ and Magna Cum Laude from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She began her professional life as a reporter with News Tribune of Woodbridge, NJ. At age 23, she became public relations director of Newark (NJ) Public Library system with its 11 branches. She relocated cross country to California for new challenges in 1975.
She met her husband a year later when he hired her as a publicist at the Concord Pavilion. They soon began dating, fell in love, married Dec. 2, 1978 in Avenel, NJ and were best friends and soul mates for life. Before, between and following the birth of sons John Jason and Justin Thomas she worked as the marketing director of California Delta Newspapers in Antioch and PR account executive with J. Stokes Associates of Walnut Creek. The family then adopted Juliene Marie Meekoh from Korea and Jill took a career sabbatical to care for her new daughter. A third son, Jared William, was born just eight months after Julie's arrival in America.
Her children were the light of her life. The proud mother of four cheered like no other on soccer fields, swimming pool decks, basketball courts and running tracks, and in the audience at many performances; she creatively and intuitively nurtured each child to follow their dreams through education and personal development; and Jill unconditionally loved each with all her enormous heart, which stayed strong with her legendary runs and walks, many accompanied by her faithful dogs.
In the late 1980s she resumed her public relations career with Jay at the family advertising agency, Lewis Benedict Bedecarre. A new client in 2003 was a local newspaper, the Clayton Pioneer, which had been purchased by Tamara and Bob Steiner. Jill was recruited to help establish the new publication and she was with the Pioneer until her death. She became a fixture at events, meetings and businesses in her beloved town of Clayton and served her advertising clients with a personal touch. In earlier years she was an award-winning ballroom dance instructor at Dance Masters in Orinda and more recently a successful Weekenders fashion coordinator.
Soon after her diagnosis in Feb. 2006 she became an active participant with Cancer Support Center (formerly The Wellness Community). Jill was given loving personal care and aggressive treatment (at her insistence!) by Dr. John Simmons and the doctors, nurses and staff at Kaiser Hospital. She was equally thankful for her radiation at John Muir Concord and to the doctors who advised her at Stanford, John Muir and privately. Jay was her “rock”, Diane, Ellen and Tamara were her “sisters” and sounding boards, and her deep Catholic religious faith was her guide during this tumultuous time.
She is survived by her mother and friend Marie Cogan of Concord; her husband of 28 years Jay Bedecarre; their four children, Jason, Justin, Julie and Jared, all of Clayton. Her East Coast family in New Jersey includes uncle Jim Cogan; aunt Alyce Miller; cousins Jean Shipley, Maryann Drybread, Rose Doktor, Joe Bono, Jay Cogan, and the Miller brothers Bill, Bob, Joe and Gregg. Jill also had her Bedecarre family, where the words “in-law” never applied for her or to them. They include mother and father, Cathy and John Bedecarre of Concord; sister Diane Bedecarre and Henry White, Petaluma; sister Corrinne Bedecarre, Lauderdale, Minnesota; brother Tom and Maggie Bedecarre, Woodside; brother Bill and Nancy Bedecarre, Los Angeles; brother Al Bedecarre and Claire Ernst, San Francisco; 13 nieces and nephews whom she adored. She leaves her former roommate and closest friend of 30 years Ellen Findlay Herdegen; the Clayton gang of Tamara Steiner, Lorraine Henney and Beth Neudell; “cousin” Molly Hastings along with extended family and countless friends, each of whom had their own place in her heart. She was predeceased by her father John Cogan and brother Jack Cogan. Their deaths were the biggest losses of her life.
A bench in The Grove in downtown Clayton is dedicated to Jill and from it you can look out to Mt. Diablo, where she so often hiked.
A Vigil and Celebration of Jill’s life was held on Sunday, June 24, at St. Agnes Church, Concord. Funeral Mass and reception was Monday, June 25, at St. Bonaventure Church, Concord. Her memorial is under her tree at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Lafayette. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a contribution in her name to the Cancer Support Community, www.cancersupport.net or Animal Rescue Foundation, www.arflife.org.