Born in 1933 in Eastern France, in the picturesque Rhine valley, during the peacetime between world wars, Dorette Streng/Jackson, deceased on July 9, 2020, and her brother Dani and Annette, had an idyllic European childhood which was soon to be interrupted by WWII and the German occupation of her native France.
After enduring years of Nazi occupation and the tribulations of war: bombings, food shortages, travel restrictions and the never ending fear that goes with it, the war finally came to end as she entered her teenaged years in a country devastated by war with its schools and infrastructure in tatters.
As was her nature she volunteered for the peace corps in 1950, even at her young age, to help with the social services and assistance being put together to help the displaced and tattered population of France.
This theme of helping others would be a thread running through her life until the day she passed on July 9th 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic.
She was rewarded for her efforts by the French Peace Corps responsible for much of the French reconstruction after the war, with a scholarship to college in the United States in 1954 where she met her future husband David Jackson at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
After graduating college she moved with her two young children, son Eric and daughter Kim, first to Colorado just long enough to have a third child, Annette, and then on to San Diego in 1964 where they settled into a small house on Saratoga St. in Ocean Beach while her husband David pursued a career in Oceanography with the Navy’s deep submersible program while she focused on raising her now family of four having had another son Kyrmet our only true OB native.
Ocean Beach in the 1960s was an idyllic time and place to raise a family and all four kids went to school (with lunches packed) to OB elementary, with the Easter parades, kite festivals and Halloween haunted houses at the OB recreation center and summers on the beach.
The grand opening of the pier in 1966 put Ocean Beach on the map and attracted people from all over America to our little beach town. With them came many social challenges from which we had been mostly insulated during the turbulent ’60s.
As was Dorette’s nature she got involved; first with the In-between, a shelter for runaway and abused teenagers and then with the planning board and coastal commission, working to help preserve our small town’s Bohemian atmosphere and keep developers from building high rise developments and apartment complexes along our coast.
In 1969 her husband, our father, abruptly left and Dorette became a single parent with four young children. Despite the challenges of this difficult situation she continued to participate in the community and the community gave back to her in the form of part time work as a checker at Raul’s market on Voltaire and as a campaign worker on the staff of both Assemblyman Larry Kapiloff and County Supervisor Jack Walsh where she helped them achieve several successful terms in office where they continued to advocate for our community of Ocean Beach.
It’s safe to say that without Dorette Jackson, Ocean Beach would not look the way it does today nor would many of the things we have come to know as the essence of Ocean Beach have come to pass including the newspaper, the Beacon, which she helped to found in 1982. As part of that effort we now have our annual Chili Cook-off and fireworks fundraiser, our zany Christmas parade, the farmers market and many other OB institutions. She did all of this in the spirit of service that was uniquely Dorette, no fanfare, just hard work and perseverance.
Always drawn to the artists, the misfits and the adventurous she found a true home in Ocean Beach and embraced the bohemian lifestyle that has always been a part of OB. The French call it “joie de vie” and Dorette shared it with everyone she touched.
Dorette finally retired from public life in 1988 and after a two year “vacation” in Belize where she volunteered as a teacher in the small town of Placentia she travelled north, accompanied by her youngest son Kyrmet and settled down in Grants Pass Oregon where she focused on gardening, writing and volunteering at a local bookstore. Before leaving she placed a family tile on Newport St. in front of the OB hotel during one of many beautifications.
She published three books during her retirement: Such as it was about growing up in Nazi occupied France and It took a village about her early years in OB and “Along the Way,” an autobiography which will be published posthumously with help from Beacon volunteer Jeffery J. Strane sometime in 2021. We hope to have all of these available on Amazon or some other source this year.
Dorette passed peacefully at her home in Oregon on July 9th 2020, surrounded by friends and family on a beautiful summer day. She is survived by her four children Eric and his wife Chrissy, Kim, Annette and Kyrmet and her grandchildren Kevin, Shelby and Cameron and step-grandchildren Rory and Elena.
If nothing else is said about her but that “she made the world a better place” that would be enough of an epitaph but it would not be nearly enough to tell the whole story of all the lives she touched during her time on earth. There was a small celebration of life held on the Ocean Beach pier on July 9th open to any who wished to attend.