Election Section


Wednesday July 10, 2002

Jan Marinissen, an active resident of Berkeley since 1962, died of natural causes Thursday. He was 74. 

As a longtime member of the American Friends Service Committee and chair of the Berkeley Mental Health Commission, Marinissen was an advocate for prison reform and mental health both in Berkeley as well as on the state level.  

Marinissen, a native of Holland, grew up during the Nazi occupation. He was active in the resistance. 

“It was a powerful influence on his life’s work,” said Naneen Karaker, a Berkeley resident who met Marinissen at UC Berkeley. “It gave him a strong sense of what can happen when power gets out of hand.”  

Karaker thought of Marinissen as a mentor as did many other students during the 1970s, both at UC Berkeley and the Pacific School of Religion, where Marinissen earned his bachelors degree of divinity in 1959 and taught a class titled “Ministry of the Marginalized.” 

“He was a person called to a genuine ministry in a difficult industry,” said Bill Trampleasure, a former American Friends Services Committee member. “It connected him with a lot of people - homeless people. He did a lot of good.” 

Marinissen’s daughter, Judith, recalls her father’s custom of talking with people at a Berkeley coffee shop, offering advice to those with a mentally ill family member.  

In the 1970s, Marinissen authored a book titled “The Struggle For Justice.” The book was known to help shape state and national prison reform policy.  

Along with a “wonderful sense of humor, he had a profound sense of truth and of justice,” Karaker said. 

Marinissen is survived by his sister, Janna, and his son, Jonathan, both of Berkeley. He is also remembered by his daughter Judith Fairchild with her husband Tom Fairchild and their one-year-old son Joshua, also Berkeley residents. 

A service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday in D’Autrement Hall at the Pacific School of Religion. 

- by Ethan Bliss