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Jerena East Giffen
  • In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the
  • Congregational Church of Topsfield,
    9 East Common St.
    Topsfield, MA 01983

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Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home

Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home
167 Maple Street, Danvers, MA 01923
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“My condolences to Jan and Roger and the rest of the family. I first met Jere when she entered the PhD program in political science at the...Read More ยป
1 of 1 | Posted by: David Leuthold - Columbia, MO

PEABODY - Jerena East Giffen, age 91 years, of Peabody, formerly of Jefferson City, Missouri died peacefully, surrounded by her family at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers on November 2, 2016.

Jere, as she was known and beloved by family and friends, was born on November 15, 1924 in Newcastle, Wyoming. She was the daughter of Mervin and Jerena (Wadlow) East.

Jere attended high school in Rolla, Missouri, and became assistant editor of the school paper. Later she enrolled at Drury College and took over the editorship of the student newspaper. She also worked writing news for two radio stations and was a part-time reporter for the United Press in Springfield, Missouri. In her senior year, Jere transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, where she also worked for the United Press.

In 1947 Jere was hired by United Press and sent to Dallas, Texas. In 1948 she was transferred to Jefferson City, Missouri, to cover the state legislative session. Two years later she became the first female bureau chief for a wire service in the United States and held that position until 1957. During this period, she handled numerous events, such as the Missouri prison riots and state executions.

Following her marriage to Lawrence E. Giffen, a Jefferson City, MO physician, Jere resigned her position with the UPI wire service. In 1980, Jere received her M.A. in Public Administration, and in 1989, a PhD in Political Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She subsequently taught at the University of Missouri-Rolla and Lincoln University.

Jere published several books including, "The House on Hobo Hill", "Plus Two for Jay Hill", "First Ladies of Missouri: Their Homes and Their Families", "The Story of Mary Whitney Phelps", and her only children's book, "Smile, There's a Rainbow". She also finished a book her husband began before he passed away called "Walks on Water: The Impact of Steamboats on the Lower Missouri River".

A long-standing member of the Presbyterian Church in Jefferson City, MO, Jere was an elder and deacon and active in its worship and work. After becoming a member of the Congregational Church of Topsfield and involved in its prayer shawl ministry, she established the same in the Presbyterian Church in Jefferson City. That ministry is still active today. Over the years, Jere won numerous awards and honors, along with a record of community involvement and public service.

In 2002, Jere moved to Danvers to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren. In 2008, she moved to Brooksby Village in Peabody, Massachusetts, where she continued to write, telling the stories of fellow residents. Her final story will be published in the next edition of The Brooksby Villager.

She is survived by her daughter Jerena (Jan) and son-in-law Roger Dik of Boxford; her step-son Lawrence (Bud) E. Giffen and wife Mahin of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; and three grandchildren, Sarah, Samuel and Michael Dik.

She was preceded in death by her husband Dr. Lawrence E. Giffen, son Michael G. Giffen, and brother, Joseph Charles East.

ARRANGEMENTS: A graveside committal service will be held in the Riverview Cemetery, Jefferson City, Missouri on Sunday, November 6th at 2 P.M. with the Reverend R.W. Beard officiating. Funeral arrangements in Missouri under the care and direction of Freeman Mortuary. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Congregational Church of Topsfield, 9 East Common Street, Topsfield, Massachusetts 01983. Assisting the family with local arrangements is the Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home 167 Maple St., (rte 62) Danvers. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit