Jane W. Courtney, columnist and needleworker

Monkton resident volunteered with outreach programs, taught needlepoint and raised Irish setters

  • Jane Courtney
Jane Courtney
March 29, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Jane W. Courtney, a former newspaper columnist, accomplished needlepoint worker and volunteer, died Thursday of a stroke at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. She was 76.

The daughter of a salesman and a seamstress, the former Jane Weismuller was born and raised in Livingston, N.J. She was a graduate of Livingston High School.

After her marriage to James M. Courtney Jr., a chemical engineer, in 1951, the couple lived in Newark, and later moved to Mendham, N.J.

Mrs. Courtney studied writing at the County College of Morris in Morristown, N.J., and at New York University's New School.

During the 1960s and until moving to Glen Arm in 1978, Mrs. Courtney wrote a weekly column for the Observer-Tribune in northern New Jersey.

"One of the proudest moments as a writer was when her article, 'Friendship a Youth Center Theme,' was published in a Sunday New York Times about the theater group Pax Amicas of Flanders, N.J.," said a daughter, Kathleen C. "Katey" Millet of Cub Hill.

Mrs. Courtney established Operation Vacation for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Patterson, N.J.

"The program was very dear to her and helped children from the inner city experience a week in the country with various church members," Ms. Millet said.

Mrs. Courtney was a leader in the Morris County 4-H, where she taught young women how to cook and sew. She also was a co-founder of the Mendham Needlepoint Shop, where she taught "her love of the needle arts," Ms. Millet said.

Mrs. Courtney moved to Baltimore when her husband founded a chemical company, Courtney Industries, in Curtis Bay.

Mrs. Courtney taught needlepoint at Shillcraft Inc., then located on North Calvert Street, and later at the old Bernice Janofsky Needlepoint in the 700 block of Bellona Ave. in Ruxton.

"We've been fast friends for more than 30 years," said Jayne A. Froehlich of Bel Air. "She was an active member of Chesapeake Needles and would go away with the group on long weekends where we just sewed. We'd also do needlepoint shows, including the one at the Timonium fair. She also did a lot of beautiful quilts."

Mrs. Froehlich recalled when Mrs. Courtney got slightly panicky when trying to make Christmas stockings for the children of her 10 children.

"She said, 'My kids are having kids so fast that I can't keep up,'" Mrs. Froehlich said with a laugh.

The two women never missed attending a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Decorators' Show House.

"Jane was just a dear friend. She was opinionated and always spoke her mind, but she was also willing to listen and she had a great sense of humor," Mrs. Froehlich said. "I'm going to miss her dearly."

Mrs. Courtney owned and bred Irish setters, and showed American Kennel Club champions, family members said.

A resident of Monkton for the past 15 years, Mrs. Courtney was an active communicant of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Hydes, where she was a member of the Mustard Seed, which provides food, clothes and furniture for the needy in the Glen Arm-Jacksonville area. In spite of failing health, she remained active in the church's Friends and Entrees, a dining group.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered Monday at her church.

In addition to her husband and daughter, she is survived by two sons, James M. Courtney III of Woodbine and Brendan A.J. Courtney of Baldwin; seven other daughters, Deborah C. Janik and Elizabeth C. Bon, both of Sparks, Patricia C. Gilbert of Baldwin, Jane C. Fialcowitz of Newton, N.J., Annmarie C. Davis of Waukesha, Wis., Susan C. Muniz of Lynchburg, Va., and HelenMary C. Snyder of Blandon, Pa.; 27 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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