I first met my cousin Jane while living in New York and working for Girl Scouts of the USA. My folks from Texas came to visit and Maxine invited all of us to church and lunch at West Point. Of course she invited Jane and Walt too. That was the only time we met face to face yet spending the day together created lasting memories. For me it was the beginning of getting to know the Bartle and Roe side of my family. We exchanged addresses and kept in touch through Christmas cards every year. When my dad was diagnosed with the AIDS virus, contacting it through 13 blood transfusions that originally saved his life, we were all in shock and disbelief. When he passed on March 17, 1993 I decided to make a panel for the AIDS Quilt. My Christmas letter that year invited people to make a square for it and provided a deadline date to get it to me to piece it together. In the mail one day was an envelop from Jane with a quilt square with a big star on it (for the Lone Star State of Texas) and the most beautiful letter sharing her remembrances of my dad. Of course I cried and called my mom and read it to her. It was written in "Jane style" saying the first time she met my dad, though she did not know it was him, yet he was big and tall and standing outside the church and she thought it must be him, and she was right.
A couple of years ago I asked my older sister Pam to come to Colorado for a couple of weeks and to go through dozens of boxes of family memorabilia that my mom had kept and we had never gone through. Pam loves to read and loves history. The two weeks passed quickly as we read through letters, scrapbooks, pictures...something we both wish we had done while our parents were still living. There were some pictures of the Roe family so I scanned and sent them to Jane asking for assistance with identification. We had several phone conversations talking about family and eventually had several zoom conversations, the last one on May 7. She loved and was proud of her family. She talked about the home she and Walt built in PA, her children, the volunteer work she did, gardening and remembrances of different family members. She even recalled the first time she met my mom who was four years older and coincidently also passed away on July 4.
I feel blessed for having met Jane and corresponded with her over the past 30+ years. I'll miss our conversations yet she'll always have a special place in my heart.