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Educator, Author and Community Activist Jadan Dies

Dec. 20, 2004 –– Retired St. John educator and author Doris Jadan died Monday at Roy L. Schneider Hospital. She was 79.
Born in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Jadan moved to St. John on her 30th birthday, June 18, 1955, with her husband Ivan. The two had married in 1951. The couple had no children. She is survived by her sister, Jean Hiles, of Pensacola, Fla., and three nephews. They are John Wright, Duncan Wright, and Clay Hiles.
A teacher, this Tulane University graduate started the Environmental Studies Program at Julius E. Sprauve School, writing several books along the way. Her literary career included six books, including a natural history guide, several cookbooks and most recently, books about her husband, "23 Stories and Moments in the Great Life of Ivan Jadan" and "Codeword: Freedom." She was also a newspaper columnist at various times for the V.I. Daily News, the Tradewinds and the St. John Times.
News of her death stunned St. John residents as word circulated Monday afternoon. Residents used words like character, eccentric and feisty, as they remembered this St. John legend.
"She had her moments," retired St. John Times publisher June Bell Barlas said as she talked about her long-time friend.
Barlas recalled that Jadan once jumped fully-clothed off the "Jolly Roger" on a school field trip to show students how the late and equally legendary Ethel McCully made her initial arrival at Maho Bay.
She recalled that the first day she worked for Jadan in the Environmental Studies Program, Jadan threw her a copy of Jadan's "A Guide to the Natural History of St. John" to proofread as Jadan headed for the ferry.
"She was always running somewhere," Barlas remembered.
Jadan kept a busy pace until illness sent her to the hospital about a week before she died.
St. John businesswoman Lonnie Willis, who was with Jadan when she died, said Jadan recently attended the Dec. 4 party to celebrate the announcement of the St. John Community Foundation's Cultural and Civic Center.
"She was such a feisty woman," Willis said.
Diane Walker, who lived across the street from Jadan, described her neighbor and friend as someone who was always full of life and spirit.
"She always had a project going," she said.
Her latest was the Ivan Jadan Museum, located in her home. It memorialized her husband, who had a career as opera singer in his native Russia before World War II and on the mainland in the years after the war. Ivan Jadan died in 1995.
Everyone had a little story to tell about Jadan. Long-time friend Sis Frank said Jadan and her husband loved a good party.
"I have so many memories of marvelous times with her and Ivan," Frank said, speaking of Jadan's love for a good glass of champagne.
Blanche Penn, on loan to the Elaine I. Sprauve Library on St. John from the Enid Baa Library on St. Thomas, recalled the Environmental Studies Program field trips she took with Jadan. Penn was a Lockhart Elementary School student at the time.
"And she always had a hibiscus in her hair," Penn recalled.
Jadan liked to tackle causes. In recent years, she often called reporters to complain about construction projects in her Cruz Bay neighborhood, and took on the Police Department in the early 1990s when it was reluctant to register the golf cart she used to get around Cruz Bay. After she gathered 700 signatures on a petition asking that she be allowed to register the car, police relented.
She continued to drive the golf cart, with her dog Pushkin by her side, until she took sick. The golf cart sported a bumper sticker that read, "My other car is a broom."
The Rev. Ray Joseph, a long-time friend, observed that Jadan touched a lot of lives.
St. John Administrator and Coastal Zone Management Commission chairman Julien Harley said that Jadan was his first-grade teacher. He said that Jadan kept up her interest in the environment, often buttonholing Harley to talk about pressing issues.
He said that Jadan's love for St. John exceeded that of many natives.
"She was my kind of people," he said, summing up what much of St. John was feeling as they learned of Jadan's death.
Funeral arrangements are pending.

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