Steve Jonas

BOSTON – Robert Stevan Jonas, 67, died peacefully Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with his family surrounding him.

Steve was born July 27, 1945, to Robert S. and Alice Haas Jonas and spent his early days on a farm outside of Millerton before moving to the Rochester area. He graduated in 1963 from Monroe High School in Rochester and from Cornell University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in history.

Serving as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War era, he discovered his gifts for working with behaviorally challenging teenagers. After his service, he worked in the Syracuse public school system with such students, where he helped turn around many lives. He was particularly proud of his ability to relate with African-American students and of his involvement in the teachers’ union. During those years he completed all but his dissertation for a doctorate in education at Syracuse University.

After leaving Syracuse, he worked as a school administrator for special-needs students in the Fulton City School District in Fulton until his retirement.

Then he moved to Saranac Lake to be with the love of his life, Fran Collier. After her retirement, the couple moved to Sciacca, Sicily, Italy, and had many adventures together before her death in 2006.

Steve wanted his loved ones to know that he died with few regrets. He was blessed with love and friendship throughout his life and, most importantly to him, with 10 deliriously happy years of discovery and love with Francine. So he asked that his loved ones not mourn for him but celebrate his life, and celebrate their own lives, loves and friendships every day.

Steve is survived by stepchildren Jon Collier of Waltham, Mass., and Jess Collier of Saranac Lake; his brother, Walter Jonas and partner Judy Cohen of Milton, Mass.; his sister, Jane Srivastava of West Vancouver, British Columbia; nieces and nephews Jacob Jonas-Closs of Portland, Ore., Rachael Jonas-Closs of Somerville, Mass., Sanjay Srivastava and fiancee Andrea Kolodrupski of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Sonia Srivastava Roxburgh and husband Aaron of North Vancouver, British Columbia; great-nephews Anthony of Winnipeg, and Owen and Adam of North Vancouver; and his first wife, Paulette Johnston of Hendersonville, N.C., and Mount Dora, Fla.

Steve was predeceased by Fran and his parents.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at First Church, Unitarian Universalist, at 66 Marlborough St. in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. A simple reception at the church will follow the service.

Steve asked that, instead of flowers, people who wish to remember him make a memorial donation to Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International or a charity of one’s own choice.