Exactly 6 weeks to the day before her 91st birthday, November 3rd – election day 2020, Jane “went to the Great Beyond.” (Jane’s description) To her dying day, she was planning on driving people to the polls on her birthday. She could not wait to receive her absentee ballot and even had the return envelope stamped and addressed – so her vote would count even if she left us early. But then again, an opportunity to discuss life and the worldly state of affairs with Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the voyage to the other side may have motivated Jane to leave only days after the notorious RBG.
Born and raised in NYC, Jane was the daughter of James Blaine Walker and Elizabeth Harrison Walker, the daughter and granddaughter of two American Presidents, Benjamin and William Henry Harrison. As a young girl, Jane and the family spent summers on a remote island, Cuttyhunk, in Massachusetts, where Jane grew to love sailing and the closeness of small communities – elements of life she kept constant throughout a career in the big city.
Jane graduated from The Chapin School, Bryn Mawr College and Cornell Medical School, where she was one of only two women in her graduating class. Jane had a remarkable career as a doctor. After medical school, Jane ran the pulmonary clinic at Bellevue Hospital for much of the 1960s and early ‘70s, and worked on the initial cure for Tuberculosis (INH). Subsequently, she headed up the international medical department of Mobil Oil.
In 1961, Jane married Newell Garfield Jr, grandson of another president. and became the stepmother to Newell’s four children William, Susan, Newell III, and Stephen. In 1962, Newell and Jane welcomed their daughter, Eliza. Granddaughter Sirjana, born April 19 2008, adopted from Nepal, was the light of Jane’s life.
In 1983, Jane and Newell moved to Hope Town, Bahamas, to run three island clinics for over a decade. There “Newie” played the role of pharmacists, x-ray technician and general business manager while “Dr. Jane” doctored to the people of Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay and Guana Cay, commuting by boat between the islands and joining all kinds of local activities and organizations on each of the islands.
In the early 1990’s they moved to Blue Hill, Maine, and became very active in the community. Jane and Newell purchased MedNow clinic in Ellsworth, where Jane worked full time. After Newell’s death in 2003, Jane ran MedNow until 2012 when she retired and initiated the establishment of the Free Clinic in Blue Hill. Jane served on the boards of Peninsula Ambulance Corps, the Blue Hill Library and the Congregational Church.
Jane was an avid reader, loved sailing, scuba diving and playing bridge. She took great delight in mentoring and supporting young people and their education. Jane was precocious, eagerly exploring every possible subject: from everything Greek, to women’s biographies, Nepal, politics and, of course, all aspects of medicine and politics. Just before passing, and much to her caregivers’ consternation, Jane was researching bee keeping so she could build bee hives on her property and help save bees!
Over the last several years, a team of the most wonderful caregivers became Jane’s source of strength, love and life. Among the caregivers whose numbers increased over the years, are: Wendy and Johniqua, Libby and Monica, Roni, Merle, Melissa, Bob, Quint, Mary and so many others. A huge thank you to them all.
In deference to the current Covid situation, the family anticipates arranging a service in July 2021. In lieu of flowers, gifts to any of the following organizations in Jane’s memory are most welcome: Peninsula Ambulance Corps (Blue Hill), Hope Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue (helping Hope Town, Bahamas, recover and rebuild after Hurricane Dorian), Blue Hill Library, or Doctor’s Without Borders – all causes close to Jane’s heart.