October 20, 2015

Remembering a good Cardinal fan

Story by Harriet Benson, photo by Lily Wong

This Stanford women’s basketball season is finally underway, but without one of its staunchest fans: Jeanette Chang. Jeanette died this May.

Jeanette had been supporting Stanford since Jennifer Azzi’s freshman year (1986); she and her husband Wally were among the few who traveled from California to Knoxville for Stanford’s first NCAA championship in 1990. She was a key figure in the founding of the Fast Break Club. Her active support for the team continued until the last year when her health declined.

During the rebirth and reorganization of the booster club early in 1992, Tara asked Jeanette to serve as the Fast Break Club’s executive director. Tara probably selected Jeanette because of her obvious passion for the team. Other qualities apparent to those of us active in the booster club during those early years were Jeanette’s familiarity with volunteer organizations and personal acquaintances with other Stanford boosters who could contribute time and skills. Her leadership and communications skills helped our club’s success from the very first month.

One of the first jobs of the fundraising committee, which I headed, was to plan a golf tournament. If an outsider were to have looked onto our committee meetings, they surely would have said older, Asian/Hawaiian, Jeanette didn’t fit with the other members, some former golf pros. But that outsider would have been so wrong! Jeanette fit into any group, making friends, helping with organization and tasks, and generally making every encounter fun.

We all remember Jeanette’s sense of humor. Jeanette was also a great cook and contributed tantalizing items to our several gatherings. Her Chinese chicken salad was better than Chef Chu’s. I remember fondly her companionship at away games and walking with her at Baylands for exercise.

During the late 1990’s, when TV coverage for women’s basketball was a little disorganized, a cameraman pointed out Jeanette in the crowd as Lindsey Yamasaki’s mother. Again, so wrong! We laughed, and from then on, some of us called or thought of Jeanette as “Mom.”

Stanford women’s basketball lost a good fan; many of us have lost a good friend. Good-bye, Mom; I’ll miss you.

Harriet Benson

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