Ellen Herdegen Obituary

Obituary — Ellen Christine Findlay Herdegen,
August 15, 1951 – March 23, 2024

CONCORD, CA (Apr. 11, 2024) — Ellen lost her 21-year battle with cancer and passed peacefully at home surrounded by family March 23. She was born in Berkeley and the world has been a better place ever since.

She attended Concord schools and was a cheerleader at Clayton Valley High School where she was named Grand Altair for the class of 1969, the highest honor for a graduating senior. She earned her B.A. degree and teaching credential at Chico State University.

A photographer, world traveler, beloved kindergarten teacher for over 20 years in Fort Bragg, Concord and Antioch, and a lifelong music and jazz enthusiast, Ellen was also a long-time voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences for the Grammy Awards.

After working for the Concord Jazz Festival and Concord Jazz record label, Ellen was critical to the early success of the Concord Pavilion as chief photographer and member of the public relations staff.

Ellen Findlay and Jerry Herdegen were married Dec. 30, 1987. They had cemented their relationship while traveling 40,000 miles around the country that year in a tiny motorhome visiting 48 states. After that, 36 years of marriage was easy.

She was an advocate for Concord and its education and arts communities through the Diablo Scholarship program (she was awarded a Diablo Scholarship in 1969), the Concord Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary celebration and as Grand Marshal for Concord’s 2019 Independence Day parade.

Ellen was a kind, thoughtful and loving wife to Jerry, mom to Joy (Corey Dziech), sister to Kathy (Jim Cerenio), grammy to Fenna (Henderson) and friend to so many (essentially everyone she ever met).  She was preceded in death by her parents, Paul and Barbara Findlay.

While Ellen valiantly and aggressively fought cancer for 21 years, she still lived in each moment, enjoying every experience fully.  As a daughter, wife, mom, teacher and more, Ellen showed us all how to enjoy life and be better people.

A Celebration of Life is planned for this spring.