In Memorium: Jane Wardwell Roberts (includes Video)


February 11, 2015 by Doug Webster

It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of Jane Wardwell Roberts, 89, on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, in Keene, NH after a brief bout with pancreatic cancer.

We invite alumni to use the comments button at the end of this post to leave your thoughts and memories of Jane for fellow Otterites.  We know they will be read and treasured by her friends and family.

The picture below, probably taken by Larry Rublee was one of many taken of Jane during the 2014 Otter Reunion on the Saturday afternoon visit to the original site of the camp. Fittingly, Jane is seated on the bench seat of the Main Lodge fireplace facing onto what was then the lodge porch overlooking Lake Otter. And being Jane, she was decked out in her usual outfit of highly functional and casual clothing including a floppy hat creating a perfect and lasting image of a VERY special lady who influenced the lives of so many alumni in positive ways.

Jane Wardwell Roberts Sept 2014

With all of the activities of the reunion this fall, we were able to capture only a few brief interviews with camp alumni, but by great good fortune, one of them was with Jane.  We included it as part of a video on reflections of camp life and Jane’s segment begins at 2:58 into the piece.

Jane was the camp’s Crafts Counselor but that was just for starters.  More importantly she was a valued advisor and counsel to Rachel and Charlie Rogers and Rachel and Berner Clarke and a jack of all trades when it came to the running of the camp.

She married Ken Roberts late in life and enjoyed many productive years of retirement in New Hampshire in the small town of Fitzwilliam where she enjoyed working on a small home printing press creating cards and fliers for friends and neighbors.  Ken passed away several years ago.

Jane debated whether or not she would attend the 2014 gathering as it involved travels from her home in New Hampshire to Buffalo and then a ride to camp with Dave Walker, but in typical Jane fashion, she decided she wasn’t going to let the challenges of advancing age slow her down and she came.

It was clear that she was very happy she did and, all of us who knew her count it as a blessing that she did so and was able to join so many old friends one more time.  As a token of appreciation, she was presented with a paddle signed by attending alumni at the Saturday evening dinner in Dorset and was clearly deeply touched by that gift.

Larry Rublee has talked with Jane’s sister Ann Wardwell Resnick who indicates that a memorial service will be held for Jane sometime in the spring once the winter snows have left New Hampshire.

In the meantime, share your thoughts and memories of Jane in Comments.

15 thoughts on “In Memorium: Jane Wardwell Roberts (includes Video)

  1. Jeanne, (Randy) Mader says:

    Joan was at Russell Sage college, the class of 1950. We always enjoyed her company and when she would return for reunions. We will be having one this May and you can be sure her classmates will be remembering her and happy she did no suffer.

  2. marfaffa says:

    I’m happy for Jane that she did not have to suffer slow painful decline into her passing. We know because we were with her – how very sharp and vibrant she was at our reunion. And happy for us reinvents that we had one more time to be with her – to be inspired by her. And the way she was Herself – content and straightforward. Not caught up with popular image of femininity As a kid I loved going into the craft lodge to explore and make stuff with her guidance.
    Thanks for informing us with your beautiful memorial essay and portrait photograph.
    Martha Tiddly

  3. Bob Cownie says:

    I have been struggling to find the words to express what Jane meant to me. During my too brief moments within the Camp Otter history, I think Jane had the most profound influence. She modeled each day what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. As CB wrote, Jane was truly a giver…of her knowledge, her wisdom, her wit, her courageous spirit, her friendship…never asking anything in return. I grew up in many ways that summer away up north in Ontario.
    Thank you, Jane, for being my teacher & inspiration. I close my eyes now and Jane’s face comes into focus with her beautiful, caring smile. She is still inspiring me.

  4. Janeen says:

    Got to know Jane for only a few days when she stayed with me in Dorset for the Camp Otter Reunion. What a great lady. What a privelage it was for me to have have, hear her stories and get to know her, tho briefly. All those of you that had her as councillor will have many cherished memories. She left me with a wooden carving she carved which sits on my shelf as a reminder that I was truly privelaged. I thank you Jane, you are one of a kind!

  5. drewkahle says:

    Jane was indeed a unique individual. Her smile would brighten a room even on the darkest day. Her humor was infectious. Her wisdom was a guiding light for all us campers. When some one special passes I remember the chorus of a song that we would sing around the campfire at night :

    There’s a long, long trail a-winding
    Into the land of my dreams,
    Where the nightingales are singing
    And the white moon beams.
    There’s a long long night of waiting
    Until my dreams all come true;
    Till the day when I’ll be going down
    That long, long trail with you.

    Jane, may God be with you as you walk down this long trail (portage). Thanks for the memories.
    Drew Kahle

  6. Mike Duffy says:

    Of all the “characters” I met at my two years Camp Otter, Jane was the most unique. She was so forthright in her manner and genuine in nature. After talking to her for a brief moment, I can only imagine talking to Amelia Earhart. It’s that “never say never” spirit that overwhelmed me in ALL my conversations with Jane. God Bless you, Jane, you made a difference in my life, and I Thank You.

  7. Larry Rublee says:

    At the Otter reunion, when it came time to walk from the community center over to the last campfire area by Trading Bay, I offered to escort Jane. We walked slowly, Jane a little unsteady on the unfamiliar terrain in the dark. We talked about camp and the reunion, and what it all meant. When we arrived at the campfire, I realized that Jane had escorted me; was my steadier and my support. It was a moment. And it was all Jane.

  8. Lynn Rublee says:

    I have such fond memories of Jane at Otter and after Otter…teaching me how to do the J stroke in the Canadian ( versus American) way…..talking with her while she would fill bags with “rangely ” ( aka gorp) for canoe trips ….that grin in both her smile and her eyes ( followed sometimes by a chuckle) …tall and lanky….one time I remember some curious boaters coming over to the camp when the girls camp were having an evening swim ( sans bathing suits) –and Jane came bursting out of the bushes as in a Tarzan movie saying loudly ” I’m Jane!” …and in no uncertain terms told them to hightail it out of there. They were so startled they didn’t say a word and turned tail. It was hysterical to all of us ( including Jane). As so many have already said , and any Otterite knows, she lived, spoke and breathed the Otter spirit , our Camelot..and shared it with us all. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to make it up to the reunion last year to see her, but do hope to go to the memorial service in NH.

  9. What a pleasure it was to see Jane at the reunion. She was the same confident, kind, inspirational person we all remembered. Camp Otter was our home away from home. Jane’s enthusiasm and knowledge, her energy and many abilities all contributed greatly to the best summers of my young adult life. If you had a question, needed help or advice, or just wanted to chat, Jane was always there. She was a giver, a teacher, and a friend. She will be missed by all, especially by her Camp Otter family. May the portage she now walks, guide her to a wilderness of joy.

    • Lynn Rublee says:

      CB, I love that last thought you stated so perfectly about the portage she now walks ( you are a poet as well as an artist) . It helps me remember her perfectly in that way.

  10. emyyoungboag says:

    When I think of Camp Otter, I think of Jane. Her knowledge of woods lore, her camping skills, and her creativity in all areas of the craft cabin were extraordinary. She certainly had a lasting influence on those who came under her eye, especially a 19 year old from St. Louis experiencing the Camp Otter for the first time. Jane’s patience and willingness to share her expertise with any who expressed an interest made her an ideal mentor and teacher of those skills and values that defined Camp Otter. As a new Otter-ite in 1964, I was fortunate to have Jane explain everything from the importance of soaping cook pots to the essential nature of responsibility and trustworthiness. Her dry wit, wry smile, and humorous turn of phrase entertained those around her and enlivened many conversations. That she counted me as a friend is an honor I treasure. Like many who attended the September reunion, I am grateful for the moments shared with Jane and feel a deep appreciation for those conversations by the lodge fireplace and the bench outside of Robinsons. As I visualize drifting candle boats, I hear the last campfire song. Jane, the joy I had in knowing you will last my whole life through. I wonder if there will be a shooting star over Otter Lake tonight.

  11. I had the pleasure to sit with Jane outside Robinsons and chit chat with her about camp, canoe tripping and fond memories of Camp Otter. I’m so glad now that she took the time to talk of all the good times with me.Even at 89 she was the same Jane that we all came to love and respect, and a very important part of Camp Otter.Rest in Peace Jane, you have made all our lives better. Laurie Hoffarth Milligan

  12. Robert J. Hoffarth says:

    My name is Robert J. Hoffarth. I am the youngest grandson of Howard B. Ortner. It truly saddens my heart to know that “Jane” has left us. Although I was only at Camp Otter it’s last several years, I have many treasured memories of Jane. I can not remember going on a canoe trip that she didn’t drive the jeep that took us to the park and she was always the first person we saw when we were picked back up to be taken back to Camp. I have so many fond memories of her and the many things she did for us it would be quite impossible to list them all. She was, to me, every bit a part of Camp Otter as my Grandparents. I’m grateful for having known her and will cherish my memories of her. I would very much appreciate being made aware of the particulars to her memorial and would be honored to be there.

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