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LBSU remembers Alexandra “Misty” Jaffe

Long Beach State professor Alexandra “Misty” Jaffe passed away Nov. 20, 2018. Her life is remember by her family and colleagues.

Jaffe was born Jan. 11, 1960 in Lansing, MI. She grew up in a loving home that valued higher education. From the early age of 10, Jaffe knew she wanted to be involved in academia, and nothing would get in the way of her goals. She grew up grew up working towards a Ph.D, and her trajectory was clear and attainable, according to a document obtained by Jaffe’s husband.

She grew up in a home that assessed people based on their values and actions above all else. Her mother taught her that just because she was smart, it did not mean there wasn’t someone smarter than her. Jaffe’s mother died when she was 13, and her father died when she was 18. In spite of these tragedies, Jaffe said she considered herself to have a very happy childhood, because her parents provided “a baseline of love and emotional stability” that gave her the strength to take care of herself.

Jaffe was 16 years old when she enrolled at the University of Delaware. Her father encouraged her to sign up for ROTC, where she got a full scholarship that paid for her undergraduate degree in English and French. She got her master’s at Indiana University in Linguistics Anthropology while she was serving in the reserves. Upon completing her master’s degree, she went on to serve four years in Germany, then returned to complete her doctorate degree.

Her doctorate research took her to the island of Corsica, which soon became her second home. She did research there every year during the summer, and bought a small house there as well.

She moved to California with her husband and two daughters in 2001 to teach at LBSU. In 2005, she became a professor, and in 2008 she received a joint appointment in Linguistics and Anthropology. She was the chair of the linguistics department, and served as the College of Liberal Arts Faculty Council Chair for six years. She was also the editor of “Linguistics and Education and the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.”

Jaffe considered herself a resilient, adaptable and successful woman, as did many others.

Jaffe is survived by her husband, Jeff Pachuilo, her daughters, Olivia and Eleanor Jaffe-Pachuilo, her brother Chris Jaffe and his family and her step mother, Jo Ann Jaffe. A memorial service will take place on campus in January 2019.

“She was a visionary who saw what the future could hold. She then set her sight on that goal and with dogged determination, she achieved all those goals. My place was the enabler, ensuring that she had the resources and time, and then executing the plans to make our dreams reality,” -Jeff Pachuilo, her husband

“She was my best friend. She was so calm, even when dealing with tough issues. An amazing human, we often joked around and said she must be a robot because she seemed like she had endless time. She never made anyone feel like she had somewhere else to go, even though she was so busy all the time. I cannot imagine how my life is going to be without her in it.” -Barbara LeMaster, director of ASL linguistics and deaf cultures

“She took a lot of time mentoring students. She was involved with so many campus initiatives. She was very busy, energetic, dedicated, great at multitasking. She had a brilliant mind. It’s rare to find that kind of leadership. She will leave a big hole here at CSULB.” -Gabriel Anton, linguistics department coordinator

Misty’s energetic and supportive leadership and collaborative spirit brought people together. She worked tirelessly to foster intellectual growth among her students and colleagues and always emphasized inclusion and the importance of diversity in participation and representation. Misty was also incredibly fun to be around. Her amazing sense of humor brought light and laughter to those of us who were fortunate to work with her. We will miss her deeply.” -Wendy Klein, associate professor, joint appointment in linguistics and anthropology

“Misty’s knowledge of our college, campus and community, and her generosity with that knowledge was such that I always had a running list of ‘questions to ask Misty. She was a full participant in every aspect of our faculty lives from service, to students, to her own scholarship. She was deeply thoughtful and kind. I will miss her.” -Deborah Thien, geography professor, human development chair

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