Jean Ellen Fitch Costa
1933 - 2023
Jean Ellen Fitch Costa, iconic world languages teacher at Helix High School, dedicated activist in the San Diego environmental and social justice community, mother, animal lover and world traveler passed away at her home in La Mesa on January 6, 2023.
Jean was born May 26, 1933 in Yankton, South Dakota to parents Edwin (Ted) Fitch and Gertrude Rossman Fitch. She grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, graduating from an all-girls Catholic High School. Jean and her mother spent many a Christmas taking the train from Minneapolis to Sioux City, Iowa to be with her cousins and other extended family for the holidays. Jean was a very caring person, always looking to help others and making room in her home over the years for many adopted canine and feline family members.
Following High School graduation Jean toured Europe, learning about other countries while also learning to speak Spanish, French and some German.
After finishing college at the University of Minnesota with a teaching degree, Jean and her son Rick traveled to Peru where she taught English to Spanish-speaking students. Jean and Rick later settled in La Mesa, California. Jean taught Spanish and French at Helix High School in La Mesa for more than 30 years. She and Rick share a lifelong love of music and nature.
Jean worked actively on environmental issues and local and international social justice causes. She often had a petition on hand for people to sign. She took on leadership roles in the Sierra Club and was active with 350 San Diego on climate change issues. She traveled extensively in Central and South America, working with groups building schools, clean water projects and much more. Other groups she supported include Greenpeace, the Environmental Health Coalition, the Cousteau Society, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Oxfam America, Rights Action, Witness for Peace and Amnesty International USA. In 2019, Jean was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sierra Club in honor of her many years of service.
Jean is survived by her son Richard Ruben Costa of California, sisters Mary Harahan of Bethany Beach, Delaware and Kathryn Fitch of Madrid, Spain, several cousins, and a strong network of devoted friends who helped care for her toward the end of her life. As was her wish, Jean’s beloved Siberian Husky, Savannah, was by her side to the end.
A Celebration of Life will be held for Jean on February 16, 2023 at 11:00 am, at Featheringill Mortuary, 6322 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115.