Hundreds mourn mother and daughter lost in San Bruno fire
September 21, 2010 5:27 PM
The explosion and subsequent blaze that erupted in a San Bruno community less than nine miles from SF State hit even closer to home last Friday as hundreds of alumni, friends and family gathered to mourn the loss of SF State graduate, Jacqueline Greig and her daughter Janessa.
On September 9th, the lives of mother and daughter were cut tragically short by what many are calling the worst disaster in PG&E's history.
They are two of four confirmed fatalities from the natural gas pipeline explosion that destroyed a San Bruno neighborhood, leaving myriad homes and lives in shambles and a community devastated.
"It's unbelievable this could happen to someone we knew and loved," said Sister Marilyn Miller, principal at St. Cecilia Catholic church where the Greig family worshiped and Janessa studied.
"It's a very sad day for our school community, as well as their families," said Laura Capitelli Marchini, whose son was in Janessa Greig's class.
Jacki, as she was known to friends, was a 44-year-old wife and mother of two who graduated from SF State in 1988 with a degree in international business.
"Her girls were her life," said Miller. "She worked full-time but took days off to make time to be at school for activities with her children."
Greig worked for the California Public Utilities Commission for 21 years and served, ironically, on a natural gas committee. She was secretary of her church's pastoral council and a frequent volunteer at school and church events.
Janessa, a 13-year-old who loved Mexican folk dancing, volleyball and acting, was Jacqueline's youngest daughter. She was an 8th grader and the student body president of her class.
"Everyone thought of her as their best friend," Miller said. "We have a student body of 600 and everyone knew Janessa. She was a positive, outgoing and caring spirit."
Outside the classroom, mother and daughter also volunteered with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Last Friday, a memorial mass with more than 900 in attendance was held at St. Cecilia. The service was presented in both English and Spanish, with an eight person mariachi group providing the background music.
Pictures of the deceased were displayed throughout the church while poems and stories Janessa wrote before her death were read aloud.
"The service was one of the largest I have attended and was a beautiful tribute to two beautiful people," said Gloria Alves, family friend to the Greigs. "Though there were tears, it was uplifting to see the outpouring of love and support for this family. Our prayers are with them."
School was canceled for the day so students could attend the service and support the surviving members of the family.
The Greig's adorned orange ribbons in honor of what they said was Janessa's favorite color, while her classmates and friends lined the pews sporting name tags displaying a Paschal candle and Easter egg, symbols said to signify new life in the Catholic religion.
The name tags also read, "Janessa and Jacki are alive in God's care." Miller said they represented the church's belief there is something after this life and although lives are changed, they are not over.
In his service, Monsignor Michael Harriman spoke of Janessa's choice for her school's theme for the year, "Don't stop believing" and how necessary it was to remember in this time of need.
"She never realized when she was with us here on Earth, how much we need to hear those words today," said Harriman. "So I say to all of you here today, as you are struggling with this horrific tragedy, don't stop believing."
Jacqueline and Janessa are survived by their husband and father, James; and daughter and sister Gabriela. A memorial fund has been established at the Bank of the West.
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