In Memory of




Obituary for Oren Isaac Pardes

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Oren Isaac Pardes was born in Berkeley, California, on February 6, 1963, and passed away unexpectedly on December 24, 2023, after suffering a massive heart attack while hiking in San Diego, his hometown of choice. Oren was the son of Elijah (Lucien) Polak, a Holocaust survivor, and the late Ginette Polak of Berkeley. His family members will be forever grateful to an unknown bystander who performed CPR on him for 30 minutes, attempting to revive him, after finding Oren collapsed on the trail.

Oren lived his life on his own terms, ever embracing new directions. He dropped out of high school at age 16 (continuing his education later) to enroll in a shepherding course offered by UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. He then signed up for a six-month job minding 2,000 sheep by himself on Mount Lassen, with only a horse and a dog as helpers and a rifle to scare off coyotes. Twice a month his boss would bring him provisions and relieve him so he could ride into town to take a shower.

Oren next embraced a six-month stay as a shepherd on a kibbutz in Israel. Upon arrival and much to his despair, he learned the kibbutz had only 200 sheep and already four shepherds, so Oren got switched to a small factory job,

then a chicken farm, where his job was to select chickens for market by entering the coop in the dark and choosing them by feel, and finally, happily, selected for tending an orange grove (pardes in Hebrew). He also learned to speak Hebrew in that period. After his return from Israel, Oren enlisted in the Marines for four years, during which period he served in the Special Forces for some months and was stationed in Panama where he learned Spanish, a language which proved useful during his many trips to Mexico as part of a condo-share.

His love of learning and his desire to live a varied and full life is evidenced by the many skills he possessed and the variety of jobs he held. Oren was highly intelligent and always excelled at course work. After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, he explored possibilities for employment that he might find attractive, enrolling in several courses including massage therapy, bar tending, and commercial truck driving. He subsequently worked as a massage therapist, a foreign backpacker tour guide, an EMT, a ballroom dance instructor, hot air balloon operator, personal trainer, orthopedic technician (preceded by a two-year junior college course), EMT, and a card dealer for private casino nights.

Oren was always there to support his father, helping him transition to living alone when Ginette suffered a severe brain injury and had to be moved to an assisted living facility in Texas. He reorganized their Berkeley home and drove furniture back to Berkeley in his van after his mother died. Although not always able to share in his children's later lives, he was a devoted father during their early years.

Oren always practiced Judaism in his own way and on his own terms, reading a parshah weekly on his own and doing his best to live a Jewish life. Besides his father, Oren is survived by his four grown children: Alexander, Arielle, Avraham, and Nathaniel Pardes, his sister Sharon Pardes Wagner (Rick) and his niece Rachel Pardes Bilke (Michael).

Oren Isaac Pardes will be buried with full military honors on January 4, 2023, in the Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego, California.