Jan Ziff – a broadcasting legend


In January Rye News published the Ann Rachlin article, The Tin Ring, recalling the horrors of the holocaust. An author, music educator and recording artist, Ann has made her home in Icklesham since 1978.

Last month she lost her eldest daughter, Jan Ziff, to a cruel duodenal cancer. Ann had been unable to see her for over two years due to COVID restrictions and had just two days with her daughter before she died.   A superb journalist with a sparkling career worldwide there were many Rye and Winchelsea people who knew and loved her. Jan adored Rye and Winchelsea and spent long periods with her mother, always visiting her favourite craft store in Rye, her friends at Jane’s Stitches, and popping into Jempson’s where she made friends with one of the ladies on the check-out. Here we publish an obituary written by her mother.

Jan Ziff 1953-2022.

Journalist and BBC correspondent and creator of Sound*Bytes, the longest-running radio show on technology for CBS Radio News.

 Eldest daughter of Ann Rachlin, Jan died in Paris on February 5th after a year-long courageous fight with cancer. Although never a permanent resident, she loved this area and visited frequently. Wherever she was travelling, be it China, Arizona, Mongolia or Cannes, visiting the UK was always coupled with visits to Icklesham, Winchelsea and Rye. She loved the churches, open gardens, summer fetes and manning the video camera during Winchelsea soirées. No matter where she was or what she was doing, she never failed to read Rye News and the Parish Magazines and comment on the events and articles.

Born in Leeds, Jan was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and University College London and Jerusalem, where she lived in the Old City. Walking through the narrow streets, friends from abroad were astounded by the happy greetings that rang out on all sides, as she meandered through the markets. Arabs, Druse, Jews, Christians – everyone knew and loved her and were her friends.  She spoke fluent Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish and French. It was in Jerusalem that she rescued her first dog, Frankie, named after St Francis. Jan had no children but she rescued and loved many dogs – they were her ‘children’, mostly border collies and she loved them intensely.

Jan was a broadcasting journalist who started at the Voice of America, followed by Associated Press, Mutual, NBC Radio and CBS Radio.  Her broadcasting career grew when she joined the BBC World Service as Correspondent – West Bank/Gaza, based in Jerusalem.  It reached its height when Jan became the first State Department Correspondent for the BBC, travelling twice on Air Force One with Secretaries of State, Shultz, Baker, Eagleburger, and Christopher, broadcasting on their meetings with international counterparts. Her reporting on the Middle East Peace Mission with Secretary James Baker made riveting listening.  She interviewed world leaders including King Hussein of Jordan, developed contacts with US senators, political commentators, and icons of the technology industry. She held that post for twelve years.

Jan had an encyclopaedic knowledge of a myriad of subjects. She wrote, produced and hosted the longest-running daily radio show on technology for CBS Radio News which is now in its 32nd year. She was a prolific writer of children’s books with several Amazon No 1 best-sellers.

Few knew she was also a superb craftswoman, making fine jewellery and beading, enchanting decoupage and knitting – all self-taught.   Her bubbly sense of humour, boundless energy, and zest for life, will live on in the hearts of all who knew and loved her.

Deeply mourned by her mother Ann Rachlin, husband Allan Davidson, siblings Trisha and Max Ziff, and her much-loved friend Iain Kerr.

Image Credits: Ann Rachlin .

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