After Jane was born the family moved to Berkeley, California. She attended the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, California.
Jane loved to build forts and she loved horses. From a very early age she rode her black horse “Scorch“ for hours alone up through the hills of Berkeley. At age 18, Jane’s parents moved with her and her brothers to England for a year because of her Dad’s teaching and research at the Tavistock Institute in London.
Jane wanted to go to art school, but her parents wanted her to have a formal education. She attended Antioch college for two years but never graduated because she met and fell in love with Bob Derecktor, a boat builder who owned a boatyard in Mamaroneck, NY.
Bob and Jane first lived on a tugboat named The XRay. Soon after their first child Barbara was born, they moved to a house in Shore Acres, Mamaroneck for three years where Paul & Tom were born. After Tom was born, they moved to a house called Parsonage Point, on Long Island Sound, in Rye, NY where Bobby, Deborah and Elizabeth were born. They all lived there for 23 years.
During the Rye years, Jane played a lot of tennis, studied weaving and made many beautiful rugs. For a few years she taught weaving at Manhattanville College. Jane also started her life-long passionate political activist career. She was among the thousands who marched in Washington protesting the Vietnam war. She wrote a letter to President Johnson asking him to put napalm on himself to see what it felt like. An FBI agent came to our house but decided she was a harmless mom who cared very much about stopping the war.
Jane’s giant weaving loom was at one end of the master bedroom at Parsonage Point that flanked the entire length of the house. At the other end of the room was Bob’s boat workshop, where his half models hung on the wall .
When they divorced, Jane moved to Waldoboro, Maine. She found and bought her first piece of land which was along a river. She built the cabin with the help of some of her kids, some of their friends, and a neighbor. She had a horse there which she rode bareback into town. The town named a road after her called Jane Sanford Road.
Jane’s cabin there had an out house, a wood burning stove for heat, and a root cellar. We did not know it then, but it was the first of many cabins she would build.
After a while, always restless Jane moved to an apartment in town and opened up a business with her daughter Lizzy called New Directions which had a health food cafe, hot tub with painted walls, book store, art gallery, art studio, a dance studio for classes, and parties which lasted a few years; it was amazing.
Jane always loved exploring and looking at land. She found a 200 acre farm up in Solon, Maine with an apple orchard, an old duplex farm house with a huge old barn and lots of woods. Jane moved there, in the middle of nowhere, far from any town, all by herself. She bought two huge Percheron horses, hooked them up to a sleigh and drove them into the woods. She cut down trees and hauled the logs back to the house for firewood .
One time we visited her, and we all ate upstairs in the wooden loft. The next time we visited her, we all ate in the downstairs of the house – a completely different experience. Jane had a full sized teepee in the field where she sometimes slept under the stars. It was there she planted a huge vegetable garden along one whole side of the barn.
Again Jane got restless. She began exploring and fell in love with the town Belfast, Maine. She told me she moved there because it had a dance studio.
In Belfast, she first lived in a small 2 story house but she kept saying she wanted to live up the hill in a big house. She managed to buy the big house on High Street and it’s where she lived for 30 years. It was in her kitchen that everyone who visited learned how to recycle, way before “recycling “ was a buzzword. Each container was clearly marked with a big sign.
Over the years, she slowly overhauled the whole house by putting in kitchens, bathrooms, and making lots of different liveable spaces. The barn for a while was an art studio, but then became an apartment. She eventually became a landlady, renting rooms to many who needed a home. That house is where she started the Raging Grannies singing group. She held many political town gatherings in her dining room.
Jane, with a few loyal friends, stood on the Main Street corner for 30 years, rain or shine with peace signs. She worked tirelessly on Save the Bay, and helped to start Belfast’s First Night.
Over the years, Jane was a house painter, ice cream scooper, organized events for Girls to Girls, delivered Meals on Wheels, volunteered at The Game Loft, and provided senior home care comfort. Jane cared for, and was an inspiration to many. She always encouraged everyone to not be afraid to follow their dreams .
During those years, in addition to everything she, also bought several pieces of land out of town. She would build a cabin on each piece of land. Each cabin design was different. When it was finished she would love it, sell it, and start again. One cabin had a straw bale hut and a wooden sauna. She was 80 when she built her last cabin. The cabins usually had no electricity or indoor plumbing. Jane was an earth lover, a real pioneer spirit.
When she was 83, she left her house now known as The Jane Sanford House, renovated and managed by her daughter, Deborah. She went to live in Tiverton, Rhode Island with her daughter Barbara & her husband Mark, near her son Tom. Jane was known by several in Tiverton as the beautiful white haired lady who walked all over town.
One morning looking out the window at a field full of high bushes, she said “Don’t you think if we cut some of those bushes we could see more of the water?”. That one sentence turned into a summer and fall of clearing massive bushes, trees and shrubs which created an amazing view of the river now called “Jane’s forever view“ where there is a plaque which says
Jane’s forever view
Her spirit is always here
To follow our hearts & dreams.
After two years in Rhode Island, Jane restless again, at age 85, moved back to Belfast with her daughter Deborah, who at the time was bi-coastal between Belfast and California. For 2 1/2 years, Jane, Deb and Debs kids had many adventures out west and back east.
Last fall Jane had a disabling stroke while she was in Belfast. She fought the fight to get back her strength at intense rehab in Portland, Maine, and had more rehab at St. Andrew’s Village where she has been staying, near her daughter Elizabeth, her family, and her daughter Natalie a nurse at St. Andrew’s. Natalie was Jane’s lucky star watching over her during covid.
Jane’s stroke left her with the use of one arm. Terrible! But Jane – our mom was upbeat about the whole stroke experience from the first day to the very last. I’ve never known anyone who aspired to be, or ever was the perfect patient, but our mom Jane was. She never complained or was unhappy. She never lost her healthy appetite. She looked forward to every day, to meeting every new person, to talking to everyone and she met every challenge head on. It was amazing to behold.
Jane started getting dementia when she left High Street. She would forget yesterday, or that she had a stroke, or that she couldn’t walk, but she always was up for an amazing, philosophical, down to earth, to the point conversation till the very end. She ended every conversation with “I love you. I’m looking forward to talking to you next time and to seeing you soon“.
She would say lately…”It gets how it gets”…”We have to adjust”…”We have to make the most of it”….”If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything”….”Be patient”….”This too will pass”…. “Take your time”…”I’m all for living in a fantasy whenever possible”….”Follow your dreams”…. “Everyone should follow their dreams”….”Life is stages and phases”….and ”Just wait – something new is on the way”.
Jane is survived by her children, Barbara D Donahue and Mark Donahue, Paul Derecktor and Amy Giddon, Tom Derecktor and Leonora Valvo, Deborah Derecktor and Mike Duggan, Woody Gall, and Elizabeth Derecktor & Peter Brown. Her grandchildren – Adam and Kaitlin Donahue, Jaeke and Amber Donahue, Izabelle and Robert Crisanti, Margo Derecktor, Emily Derecktor, Erik Derecktor, Sarah Derecktor, Eliza Duggan, Riley Duggan, Lily Derecktor, Natalie Brown, Shane Osier, and Tom Brown. Great grandchildren – Bowen and Markie Donahue, Frank Donahue, Katharine Jane Crisanti, and Aria & Ellie Osier.