Amherst Magazine
Amy J. Hertz '81

We write to you with great sadness to tell you of the death of our beloved friend Amy Janet Hertz ’81.  Amy passed away on February 8, 2007, after being diagnosed six months earlier with a malignant brain tumor.

We met Amy at Amherst in 1977.  As members of the second class of women admitted to the school, we were all thrust into the turbulent early days of coeducation.  Amy lost no time in becoming an outspoken advocate for the rights of female students and the negative influence of fraternities on campus. She integrated her social and political beliefs with her studies by writing a feminist thesis about mothers and daughters.

After her graduation from Amherst, Amy traveled to Oklahoma to work door to door on the passage of the state Equal Rights Amendment.  She went without friends or family and every day was confronted with people who were angry and hostile about the ERA.  She even encountered people who had never before met a Jew and was asked why she didn’t have horns.  But, as it did on so many occasions in her life, Amy’s conviction and passion carried her through.

Amy earned a law degree at Cornell University and used this credential to pursue her commitment to issues of social justice.  As an attorney at Legal Aid, Amy helped clients fight for basic needs such as food stamps and housing.  In her subsequent role as a senior attorney at the California Attorney General’s Office, Amy specialized in combating the abuse of elders in nursing homes.  She later joined the AG’s legal team focused on litigating against Big Tobacco.  Amy became a nationally renowned expert in opposing the marketing of cigarettes to children and teens.

Amy lived in Oakland, CA, with her husband, Mike, and their seven-year-old daughter, Mia.  She was a loving and compassionate wife, mother and friend.  During Amy’s illness, Amherst friends came from as far as Germany and Japan to be with her.  In November 2006, we held a James fourth floor reunion in Berkeley, CA, including Rachel Trachten ’83, Sophia Chang ’81, Deanne Tucker ’81, Amy Nishida ’81, Barb Fitton Hauss ’81 and Sarah Mahler ’81.  We are so thankful for that time together while Amy was still well enough to enjoy it.

Amy was always a “gatherer” of friends, whether at Amherst, at the AG’s office, in her book or mother’s group or in her neighborhood.  The outpouring of support during her illness was truly inspiring and an indication of the large number of lives that she touched in a positive way.  In attendance at the funeral were Amherst classmates Rachel Trachten ’83, Zach Pine ’82, Sophia Chang ’81, Deanne Tucker ’81, Amy Nishida ’81, Liz Field ’81, Sally Rathmann Kadifa ’81, Kayla Kirsch ’82 and George Hays ’80.

We are grateful that Amherst brought Amy into our lives, and we miss her deeply.

—Sophia Chang ’81
—Rachel Trachten ’83
—Deanne Tucker ’81

 

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