February 11, 1979 ~ October 2, 2022

Born in: San Francisco, California
Resided in: Rolling Hills Estates, California

Jonelle Malia Ng passed away into the arms of our Lord on Sunday, October 2, 2022 at Torrance Memorial Hospital in Torrance, California. Jonelle died from complications related to her gastrointestinal system that led to a bacterial infection in her bloodstream. She was 43 years old.

Jonelle was born on February 11, 1979 in San Francisco, California. She was the third and youngest daughter of Verna and John Ng. Jonelle was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice, cutting off the oxygen to her brain. This lack of oxygen resulted in her being quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, renal tubular acidosis, and a heart murmur. She was in the hospital for three months and then went home to Concord, California where she lived basically the rest of her very full life.

At the very young age of four months, Jonelle started school at the George Miller East Center, a county-operated educational program for children with disabilities, including physical and occupational therapy services. She was bused to and from school every day. Verna went to the school every day and fed her lunch.

Jonelle matriculated through various programs operated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education and by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) until she graduated from Concord High School in 2001 at age 22. While doing so, she and her parents held these government agencies accountable. They took MDUSD to fair hearing three times and won every single time.

Jonelle and her parents’ ultimate contribution to disability rights was joining a class action discrimination suit brought by parents of disabled children against the MDUSD. The suit was in response to AB 3632, a bill allowing access to program, placement, and augmentative alternative communication devices for people with disabilities. This suit also set a precedent, not only locally, but nationally, providing an accessible education for the disabled community under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The parents who filed the suit formed a small group called Advocates for Special Kids (ASK). ASK was represented by Disability Rights Advocates, a nonprofit firm based in Berkeley, California. Its lead attorneys working with ASK were Rhoda Benedetti and Sid Wolinsky.

The federal suit, filed in March l998, alleged that the MDUSD denied disabled children equal access to school buildings and educational and social programs and prevented them from attending their neighborhood schools. The Spieler v. Mt. Diablo Consent Decree (Decree) negotiated in 2000 represented the most sweeping school access settlement to date under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It created equal access to school buildings, educational programs, and social programs. MDUSD committed $20 million over 10 years to ensure equal access for its 5,000 students with disabilities at 55 school sites, enabling all students with disabilities in the MDUSD to attend their neighborhood schools. The Decree reformed the MDUSD’s special education system with policies supporting the integration of disabled children into all educational and social programs. As a result, MDUSD created three new programs to benefit disabled students: a Model Augmentative Communication Program for children who need assistive technology; a Model Aide Training Program to train classroom aides to assist children with disabilities; and a full-time Parent Liaison to assist parents to navigate the special educational system. Along with others, Jonelle and her parents made this win possible for the disabled community.

It wasn’t all business for Jonelle, though. Her favorite color was pink and she was known as “the princess” in her house. Jonelle loved all of the Disney princesses, but had a particular fondness for Cinderella (because, of course, she had two ugly step sisters). Jonelle enjoyed going shopping with her mom to buy new clothes and hair accessories, watching Disney movies, and spending time with friends and family, particularly once she had nephews and nieces who called her “Aunty Jo.” Jonelle loved traveling to Disneyland and going on Disney cruises with her mom, Uncle Renny, Jennifer and her family as well as Jayna and her family. Jonelle also enjoyed road trips to southern California to stay with Jennifer and her family for weeks at a time. Her most favorite vacation destination, though, was HAWAII. In Hawaii she loved visiting extended family and friends who treated her like a Hawaiian princess.

Though Jonelle was nonverbal, she understood everything people said to her. Her mode of communication was answering yes/no questions, nodding her head to the left for “no” and to the right for “yes.” (When she was really lazy, she’d use only her eyes.) That said, Jonelle’s nonverbal “NO” could be just as vehement and forceful as anyone’s verbal version. Jonelle also loved to laugh, shrieking in delight at anyone snoring or even pretending to snore.

Jonelle was predeceased by her father, John G. Ng, who passed away in 2006. Jonelle is survived by her mother, Verna C. Ng of Rolling Hills Estates, California; oldest sister, Jennifer Ng (Bill Munday) of Rolling Hills Estates, California; middle sister, Jayna Ng (Peter Jensen) of San Jose, California; five nieces and nephews; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins who will miss her dearly. A Celebration of Life with full mass at St. Agnes Church (3966 Chestnut Avenue, Concord, CA) will be held on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at 11:30 am. Reception with refreshments will immediately follow in the parish hall and on its outdoor patio area. The family feels it fitting to have a party on what would have been Jonelle’s 44th birthday. In lieu of flowers, Jonelle’s family suggests donations to Jonelle’s former adult day program: Vistability , 1340 Arnold Drive, Martinez, CA 94553. Indicate on memo line that the donation is for “CAP-Concord in memory of Jonelle Ng.”

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  1. candle 8Jonelle brought joy all her years. She has fought the good fight, and finished her course (2 Tim 4:7). No more pain and sorrows, just joy with Jesus. I’m praying for the family. 🙏🏾

  2. candle 4What a beautiful tribute! Love and prayers to you all! Take care, Verna. She’s happily with John and God now looking after you all!

  3. While Jonelle was 5 years older than Adam Chauss( my son) . I remember her well. She was a sweet , beautiful young lady. My heart breaks for all who loved her.

  4. candle 4Jonelle was always such a cheerful and spirited woman! She will be missed by many! Our prayers continue to go out to the family and know she’s found her way home!

  5. candle 7Such a beautiful person both inside and out. We are so honored to have known you. One day we will see you in heaven!

    With all our 💕

  6. My heart is filled with sorrow for Jonelle’s loved ones, but with joy for her promised life with our Lord. What would we do without our faith?

  7. candle 1Jonelle is missed by so many! She was Nancy’s best friend. Only one month apart (Nancy is March 12, 1979 and also born in San Francisco), we so enjoyed and looked forward to Jo’s birthday card each year with her hand signed “Jo” on it. Wish Nancy had been so talented! Jo, Nancy and C.J. were quite the trio! Take care and know that Jo is in our hearts!

    • candle 8They were quite the trio. Now they’re giving God a run for His patience. See you in February. Send us an invite Verna. Hope to see you all then. Love to everybody.

  8. My Heart is so very heavy right now writing this……
    I worked with her Amazing Mom at the phone company way back when!!!!! I remember when Jonelle was born and what the Dr.s said but her family never EVER gave up and this beautiful soul simply had the best life ever! And THAT was because she was born into THE MOST AMAZING FAMILY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am blessed because I saw her just before her B-day this year!!!!! My “hairdresser” who was literally family to them as well ~ we went to see them before they moved! Jonelle was SO SO happy when she saw us! Her Mom always said she knew all of us and she so did!!!!!

    I keep Verna and Jonelle in my prayers every night! I know Jonelle is an Angel right now but I still say Prayers for her! Such a Beautiful Soul ~

    I am truly blessed to have known this amazing child. I wish I was as Strong as she was!
    Her Mom and Jonelle are Truly My Hero’s!!!!

  9. candle 4Jonelle was in such loving hands of a truly remarkable family.
    Wishing you all strength, love and peace. ❤️

  10. Dear Jo,

    Had been looking forward to your visits with Mom in the Spring and Fall now that covid restrictions have been lifted. Will miss you, your laughter and cheer.
    But aside from our personal feelings of loss, your persistent battle for the disabled and for attention to their needs has created an awareness which has placed into motion, steps to remedy the oversight. Your brief time here has made a difference in this world. Enjoy your blessings with the Lord.

  11. candle 7I have so many good memories of Jonelle,… her spunk, her humor and her warmth. So glad our paths crossed. Blessings on your journey into the light. Travel well, Jonelle!

  12. Jonelle was a courageous girl, a true inspiration. I’m lucky to have known her for the time that I did. She was a lucky girl to have you as her mother.

  13. candle 7The many cousins from Hawaii will miss seeing you on your regular visits to Oahu.
    You had such a pure heart and spirit.
    Uncle Les will miss singing to you.
    You had a full and meaningful life but we wished you had stayed with us longer.

  14. candle 7Our sincerest condolences to you and your family. May God continue to bless you as you celebrate Jonelle’s beautiful life XOXO The Geoffroy’s

  15. candle 7I always loved Jonelle’s beautiful smile. She had such a wonderful life because of the love & care you always showed to her, Verna. My love & prayers go out to you & your family.

  16. candle 4Reading the beautiful tribute continues to show me how amazing your family is with such determination, not only helping Jonelle but everyone who has disabilities. Jonelle flourished and had a wonderful life based on all the love and care she received. She lived her fullest potential. Verna, my heart goes out to you for all of the love and strength you always had. Hopefully you have some peace knowing so many people loved and cared about her and now she is with her father. Peace be with you

  17. candle 1RIP dear sweet “princess” Jonelle Malia Ng.
    We are honored to be one of your many friends.
    We will always remember you and your beautiful smile and laugh.
    Sending love and prayers to Verna and all of the Ng family.
    With our condolences, Judy & Gary Ceccarelli

  18. Janelle was one of the sweetest young ladies I knew. She could always make you smile when you were having a bad day. She never let her disability take her light away. She will truly be missed.

  19. candle 7My condolences to you and your family. I often think of the ‘good old days’ at St Agnes when both of our girls were young and your family would be celebrating at the same Mass. May we find happiness in those memories.

    • Terryann… those were very fond memories. Remembering all the joyful memories as well as the sad ones… when David & John both passed away in 2006. Our journey of life taking the bitter & the sweet.
      We have moved to SoCal. But we’ll be back in Concord Feb 2023 to celebrate Jo’s life at St Agnes where our Ng Family has lived for over 50 1/2yrs.
      Take care & God bless….. Verna
      P.S. it was nice seeing you at Stonebrook when we last visited Bev Atichison.

  20. candle 1To Jonelle’s beautiful family 🙏❤️
    I had the honor of knowing & assisting Jonelle, Verna & Remy during my 15 year employment at Cap Concord (Jonelle’s Day Program). Her BIG Smile made our day. I looked forward to seeing her outfits & adorable hair accessories. The Love & support I saw in Jonelle’s family was so special & heart 💜 warming. RIP our Sweet Beautiful & Funny Jonelle 🙏🙏🙏
    Jayne S.

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