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20 March 2018

Remembering Jane Wolf Hufft, 1943-2018

Jane Wolf Hufft, a lifelong educator, was a warm and gracious woman, devoted to her family. She died 30 January 2018 and is survived by her husband Ron, daughter Amy, son Brian, and three grandchildren. 

Jane was born 21 August 1943 in Norfolk Virginia, a child of Colorado native Robert Joseph Wolf (1915–1977) and Mary H. Omer (1914–1981) of Illinois. Her paternal grandparents were George Wolf, a Denver police captain, and Katherine Elizabeth Sallen. Jane’s maternal grandparents were Lewis Omer and Edith Nevins of Carthage, Illinois, a small farming community. Lewis Omer was a farmer and teacher at Carthage College.

The eldest of four children, Jane and her two sisters and brother spent their early years in Norfolk where their father was stationed. Robert Wolf served as a naval officer during WWII. After the war, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan, where Robert worked as an engineer in a construction firm.

The family moved again in the 1950s to Lafayette, California, where Jane attended Acalanes High School and graduated in 1961. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1966 from the University of California at Berkeley, a master’s degree from California State University at Hayward, and numerous educational certificates including an administrative credential. Jane began dating fellow Lafayette resident and Acalanes graduate Ron Hufft while they both were at Cal. They married fifty years ago in 1968.

Jane and Ron Hufft and family
Jane worked as an educator for nearly forty years, first as a teacher, then as manager of the Gifted and Talented Education Program in the Martinez, California, Unified School District, and finally as the well-respected principal of Morello Park Elementary School in Martinez. Her support of education and of children never wavered. Jane later served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children placed in the care of a Juvenile Dependency Court, where she provided expertise on educational issues.
Jane Wolf Hufft was an avid genealogist. In 1984, she and Jane Knowles Lindsey were introduced to each other due to their mutual interest in family history. The friends made annual research trips to Boston or Salt Lake City. Hufft researched her own family as well as her husband’s Cook line from Newburyport, Massachusetts.

The "two Janes"--Jane Lindsey (center, seated) and Jane Hufft (standing), with 2006 CGS Board members Glen Schimelpfenig, Vern Deubler, Will Frye, and Nancy Peterson
By 2004, when Hufft retired, the “two Janes” had been travelling and researching together for twenty years and Lindsey had become president of the California Genealogical Society. Hufft had always said that “someday” she wanted to edit a genealogical publication so Lindsey recruited her to serve as editor of the society newsletter, The CGS News. 
In addition to her duties as editor, Jane Hufft and Nancy Servin delivered the newsletters to the post office after the Mailing Committee did tedious work to meet the strict bulk mail postal requirements. It was typical of Jane to oversee every aspect of a project.

Jane’s editing skills contributed to the success of two books published in 2006 to commemorate the centennial of the 1906 earthquake—A Most Dreadful Earthquake: A First-Hand Account of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire – with Glimpses into the Lives of the Phillips-Jones Letter Writers, and Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research.

Jane with Jerry Anderson at NEHGS in 2006
Hufft and Shirley Thomson created the "CGS Style Sheet" in 2007, to lay the foundation toward a consistent style among the various publications of the California Genealogical Society and Library. Jane served as a member of the Publications Committee, taking over as chair after Barbara Close stepped down in 2008. In 2010, Jane was part of a large team that published The Ancestry of Theodore Timothy Judge and Ellen Sheehy Judge: Including the Families of Boland, Roussel, Harman, McMurphy, Kelley, Bohane, Chapin, Freiermuth, Taylor, Moore and Farneman for the society.

Jane continued to serve as editor of the CGS News until January 2009, when the society went to the digital eNews. Her editorial duties were transferred to the launch of the former Nugget, which began its new life as The California Nugget, published twice a year beginning with the spring 2009 issue. It was in this role where she may have had her greatest influence at CGS. Jane edited the society magazine for seven years, through the Spring 2016 issue, when she turned the reins over to current editor Janice Sellers.

Jane was an excellent writer and she published some of her findings in various journals. She often served as a ghostwriter for CGS members who needed assistance bringing their words to life.

Jane served on the board of directors for six years, from January 2003 to January 2009. She and her friend Laura Ferber assisted the CGS board as facilitators of their strategic planning retreats for two years.

Jane shared her experience as educator, researcher, writer, and editor by developing and teaching classes. In 2009, she was a member of a panel discussion on “Breaking Down Brick Walls” with Nancy Peterson and Lavinia Schwarz. Hufft and Matt Berry offered a “Footnotes and Indexing Workshop” in 2010. Jane taught “Footnotes 101" in 2011. Jane teamed up with Lisa Gorrell and Tim Cox in 2012 to create an intensive writing course, “Writing Your Family History: Start Now.” They taught an encore series the following year with Matt Berry. Lisa recalled that Jane was “a joy to collaborate with. Her expertise was grammar and citations, and she had such a wonderful delivery style that made it fun to review grammar.”

Jane was well-known for generously assisting others with their genealogy, especially their brick walls. Sally Houston Brown reminisced about the inability to locate a marriage record for her maternal grandparents, who came to Richmond from Illinois. Jane “found a sentence in the SF Call, that they were married in Stockton! How she remembered the names from our brief conversation and still looked for them fills me with amazement. From that bit of info, I was able to get the official records - and speculate about why there (probably grandpa met the train with grandma and g-grandma). I never, never would have thought to check an SF paper or the Stockton records. To me it was a true miracle. Jane probably fulfilled the role of fairy godmother for lots of us at CGS.”

With fellow quilter-genealogist Pat Richley-Erikson
Beyond family and genealogy, Jane was a skilled quilter and adventurous traveler. As recently as last year, she had a quilt displayed at the Pacific International Quilt Festival. She took two trips to Africa, as well as one to India, the ancestral home of her son-in-law.

A memorial service for Jane will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, 2018, at the Lafayette Veteran's Memorial Center. Her obituary was published 9 March 2018 in the East Bay Times.

Contributions in Jane’s memory may be made to the California Genealogical Society, 2201 Broadway, LL2, Oakland California, 94612-3031. Alternatively, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Willamette University Jane W. Hufft Scholarship Fund, established by her family in 2017 to ensure students facing adversity can complete their education and live lives of contribution and meaning.

Photos provided by the Hufft family and the California Genealogical Society.
The editor wishes to thank the Hufft family, Jane Lindsey, and Kathryn Doyle for their contributions to this post.
Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society 

18 March 2018

Putting the Gene in Genealogy

Blaine Bettinger with CGS past president Linda Okazaki in Berkeley, March 3

On March 3, CGS hosted “A Day with the Genetic Genealogist,” a daylong seminar with Blaine Bettinger at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. The sold-out event addressed “Getting the Most Out of Your AncestryDNA Matches,” gave an overview of Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal DNA, and looked at new third-party tools for genealogical DNA analysis. Bettinger also led a smaller seminar at CGS the previous day, where he examined in detail such topics as the need for ethics and standards in DNA testing, a “genealogical proof standard” for genetics, and how to interpret non-European DNA evidence.

Blaine Bettinger was first bitten by the genealogy bug in middle school, when a family history assignment sparked a fascination that would continue through his life. He was a graduate student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, studying molecular biology and biochemistry, when the first affordable direct-to-consumer tests for ancestral DNA came on the market. “This was combining my two loves, microbiology and genealogy,” he remembers. Soon he had discovered his passion. After grad school, he decided to pursue a law degree, reckoning that “would allow me to pursue my love of science and reading and writing, without being at the bench every day. So I went right from grad school to law school, and it's been a terrific career.” In 2007, he launched a website, The Genetic Genealogist, one of the earliest blogs on the topic. 

Self-described as “an intellectual property attorney by day and a DNA specialist by night,” Dr. Bettinger soon became one of the go-to authorities on ancestral DNA.  He’s been interviewed and quoted by national publications such as NewsweekNew Scientist, and Wired. He’s also gained something like rock-star status in the genealogical community for his entertaining presentations, which are both informative and lucid enough for the layperson.

While limited population samples currently hinder the study of ancestral DNA, especially for those of non-European heritage, Bettinger anticipates great leaps and bounds in DNA analysis in the near future. “The way the databases are growing, it’s just incredible,” he says. He’s enthusiastic about the development of such tools as DNAPainter, GEDMatch, and the Chrome extension MedBetter, which make it easier to understand and compare DNA results. In April 2018 he plans to launch a new “DNA Central” project to help subscribers keep abreast of the latest developments in genetic genealogy.

You can learn more about Bettinger’s work at his website,

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society