Jane Adelle (Thompson) Mead, age 88, passed away peacefully with her husband of 67 years, her oldest son, and her pastor by her side on Feb. 6, 2020, at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California.
Born on Feb. 15, 1931, in Jamestown, New York, the daughter of the late Herbert Faber and Helen (Peglar) Thompson, Jane graduated from Westfield Academy and Central School in 1949, and received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1953, where she was a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority. She and her husband, James Wilson Mead, grew up together in Westfield, New York, and they were married there on Nov. 22, 1952, in the First Presbyterian Church. Jane was a senior in college and Jim was an Ensign serving in the United States Naval Reserve on the USS Brownson.
A woman of immense and unshakeable faith, Jane was an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which she served as the communications executive for the Synod of the Northeast, as director of the Presbyterian General Assembly newsroom, and as editor of the General Assembly newspaper for 10 years. In 1978 Jane served as a commissioner in the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in San Diego, where she was one of fewer than 10% of the commissioners to cast a ballot in favor of equal ordination of gays and lesbians. She was a founding member of the Spirit of the Desert Presbyterian Fellowship, and for the past five years she had been a member of the Community Presbyterian Church of Cathedral City, which Jane served as Clerk of Session.
Jane loved music, theater and ballet, and in 1972 she and Jim purchased a cottage on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, where they spent nearly every summer of the rest of their lives. A former member of the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees, Jane also served as editor of The Chautauquan Daily from 1982 to 1986. Under her direction, the newspaper was redesigned and updated. Jane’s father and grandfather, and her husband were all editors of the Westfield Republican, the first Republican newspaper in the country, and writing and editing were in her blood.
Jane and Jim hosted many international students and visitors in the 1960s and 1970s, including those from Rotary International, American Field Service and the Experiment in International Living. They visited and remained in contact with their exchange student daughters Arja Storm Van Leeuwen of Utrecht, The Netherlands, and Vicki (Creighton) Abbott of Narooma, New South Wales, Australia.
Jane volunteered throughout her adult life, including distributing food with Hidden Harvest just weeks before her passing, and for the Alzheimer’s Association. After a 2004 trip to Kenya, Jane and Jim helped establish the Bell House Academy, a trade school operated by Albert Mburu, who they met while Jane was in Nairobi to edit the memoirs of the Presbyterian Archbishop of East Africa.
She was a full-time mom until her youngest child was in college but worked as a part-time preschool teacher (during school hours), and later as a customer service representative for the printing division of Westfield Republican, Inc.
Jane loved reading, travel, knitting, and needlepoint. She was always ready for an adventure, like riding all four roller coasters at Busch Gardens at age 75. Her last international trip was for 18 days to Japan, to visit with a former exchange student, Hidenori Endo, when Jim and Jane were 85 and 84, respectively.
Jane’s greatest joy in life was spending time with her family. She is survived by her husband, Jim, and children Christopher (Gail) of Orinda, California, Patrick (Amy) of Columbia, Maryland, and Peter (Denise) Mead, of Columbia, and Elizabeth (Stephen) Mead Fox of Sandwich, Massachusetts. She also is survived by her grandchildren Helen, Carson, Cooper, Augusta and Maura Mead, and William, Patrick and Christopher Fox, as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Hebert and Helen, and her sister Helen Nai.
A service of remembrance was held at the Community Presbyterian Church in Cathedral City on Feb. 15, 2020. A second service is to be held at the Presbyterian House in Chautauqua Institution at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Hidden Harvest of the Coachella Valley or to the Community Presbyterian Church of Cathedral City.