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Class of June 1955 

From ARLENE BECKMAN LINDER   June 2012


What have I been doing since I graduated from Lowell? I guess you might say I have had a pretty full life. I met a very handsome lieutenant in the US Air Force who asked me to marry him and go to the Casbah in Casablanca. Three months later we were married and sailing away to North Africa on a troop carrier. I had just turned 20 and lived quite an adventure for a year in Africa before we moved to Madrid, Spain, where our first daughter Renee was born. Our second daughter Michelle was born in Michigan when my husband was transferred to Strategic Air Command flying KC135's. After nine years in the Air Force he decided to get out and go back to school. 


By this time our third daughter Joelle was born in SF. My husband went to Hastings Law School with the help of the GI Bill; with that and a new business I started, Mop Tops, we were able to survive financially. While raising our three daughters, I sold designs for children's rooms, worked as a street artist and had my designs carried in stores all over the United States. The Ladies Home Journal and American Home magazine bought several designs for their magazines.


As my husband's law practice grew, I was able to retire Mop Tops, and then I went back to school. I was accepted to the SF Art Institute and received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree. I have been in several shows, my art has been in two museums and two of my pen and ink drawings are in a book titled "Art Rage Us." Those drawings traveled in a show throughout America and reaching as far as Japan.


The years seemed to pass very rapidly as our three daughters grew, but tragedy struck our family. Our eldest daughter Renee was 19 years old when she was killed in an auto accident. Our family nearly fell apart. My husband Dick and I pulled ourselves together and realized we had two more daughters to raise.


The years passed, I dabbled in real estate and created art. At the age of 32 our second daughter Michelle discovered she had third-stage breast cancer, and my strong husband had diabetes that would slowly destroy his body. Michelle survived cancer after having a bone marrow transplant, but it returned 14 years later; again, she beat the disease. We discovered that both of our daughters and my husband carry the BRCA genetic mutation, also known as the breast cancer gene.


Our youngest daughter Joelle left her job as a reporter for a New York Times newspaper and devoted her time to writing "Cancer Time Bomb." This book describes how this cancer gene impacted all of our lives and she tells about her intensely emotional journey as she justified having prophylactic surgeries, removing her ovaries and breasts that were at high risk of getting cancer. Because of the mutation and our family history, Joelle's chance of getting breast cancer was placed higher than 90 percent, and her chance of getting ovarian cancer was 1-in-3 versus the average 1-in-70. We discovered from UCSF Medical Center that Ashkenazi Jews are at highest risk of passing down this mutation through their families.


Her book was published on Amazon and is on the Kindle, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. The book is also carried at Copperfields in Santa Rosa, Books Inc. in the Marina, and other SF locations. She was recently interviewed on KRON TV. You can watch her interview on YouTube at http://bit.ly/KcHXlz.


A very large number of students in my graduating class were decedents of Ashkenazi Jews. All of my close girlfriends from Lowell have died from cancer. Carol May, Adrienne Rose, Arlene Davis, to name a few. If you have read this far and have a lot of cancer in your family it would be a good idea to get your DNA tested.


Before my husband's kidneys failed we decided on the spur of the moment to travel to the Antarctica. What an amazing trip. I am glad we did it. On another spur of the moment, we decided to put our Marin home up for sale and were shocked that we sold it within two weeks. We decided to move to a warm climate near an ocean, so we moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina, and we have been there since December 2011. 


Dick goes to dialysis three times a week, and I have a great art studio that overlooks a lake and a golf course where I paint as often as I can. Oh, we also have our own  alligator that I named Charlie who swims in our lake. After years of living many states apart, my sister lives only blocks away. We are enjoying exploring the surrounding areas, and periodically get to see Michelle who now lives in Atlanta, but we miss Joelle who is still in Sonoma County with our wonderful son-in-law Mark and our two delightful grandchildren.


Well that is my life as of today.