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January 17, 2012 > Obituary: Harriet Despeaux

Obituary: Harriet Despeaux

June 30,1945 - December 27, 2011

Harriet Idel Despeaux was a phenomenal woman of compassion, creativity, unbounding energy, and tremendous generosity. Harriet grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey, the daughter of Max and Ursula Idel. She is survived by her sister, Vera Gierke, and her nieces Erica and Emily.

A graduate of Western Reserve University and the University of Utah at Salt Lake, Harriet Despeaux was an audiologist for Kaiser Hospital Hayward for nearly 20 years. In 1988 she left that field to become a real estate agent for Century 21 in Newark. At the time of her retirement, she was an agent for Keller Williams. She then developed a small business restoring homes, called Shack Attack, and was active in that pursuit as long as she was able.

Harriet was committed and generous of her time and resources with numerous social and environmental causes she cherished. For several years Harriet served on the Housing Scholarship Board for the City of Fremont. She was active in the American Association of University Women and held many local positions, including branch president. She served as a member of the AAUW California Public Policy Committee and for several summers was a dorm mom for the state AAUW Tech Trek program. Harriet was also active in Odyssey of the Mind in the Bay Area, and was a volunteer for the American Cancer Society.

Shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 Harriet became a valued volunteer with the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation's program, Bras for Body and Soul, in Fremont. She also served several years on the Board of Abode Services, which offers support services for homeless individuals in the area.

Harriet was a guitar player, a tap dancer, creator of fun character dolls, and a lover of travel. She will be dearly missed by family and friends.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 21st, at 4 pm in the Anderson Auditorium in Washington Hospital's West building, 2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont.

Donations may be made in her name to Abode Services in Fremont ( or the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation (

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