Jane Hewitt is all about family—reunions, celebrations, photo albums—and she has a large family to celebrate. Jane recently turned 93. She is one of six children, and longevity runs in the family. Her oldest living sister, Marcia, who lives in Indiana, is 99 years young!
Musical talent also runs in the family. Jane’s dad was a bass, and though her mother never played an instrument, she monitored each child as they practiced piano. Jane studied piano briefly, but her real love was for singing. She sang as a soprano in ninth-grade Glee Club and Mixed Chorus. She readily made up harmonies when singing with her siblings and can still improvise harmonies when singing with daughter Emily.
Jane met her husband Charles on a blind date arranged by her sister. That was July, and they were married in December. Charles came from a family of five and was an Episcopalian. Jane had been raised in the Baptist tradition but converted at the time of their marriage. When Charles decided to train to be an Episcopal minister soon after they married, Jane became the wife of a minister. Then they had four children in five years, and life indeed became a bit hectic for them.
The young family—Jane and Charles, oldest child Virginia, then Chuck, Tom, Emily, and Bill— lived in Gaylord and attended Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, where Charles was minister. He served Saint Andrew’s for 30 years, and the children were all very active in ministry—setting up chairs for services, folding bulletins on Saturday nights, and otherwise supporting the congregation’s life together.
After raising the kids, Jane volunteered in the local school system, first helping with a reading program for several years. When the school system received a grant to support a full-time reading aide, Jane got the job. She later served as the school system’s bookkeeper for 15 years. She retired early to be able to spend time with Charles, who had retired recently and whose health was deteriorating. Jane didn’t want him to be home alone all day.
Jane says family is more than just an important part of her life. She says it is her whole life. Hewitt family reunions have been held for twenty-seven years, and in recent years have taken place here at Saint James. Customarily, the family would begin the reunion with a worship service, singing hymns in four-part harmony and taking turns at the piano accompanying the large group of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, and anyone else who could be with them that day.
We are fortunate to have such a treasure in our congregation. Jane brings a wealth of experience and grace to the choir and our parish family, and her faithful nurturing of and dedication to family is an example to us all.
—Alice Van Wambeke