Obituary : Jane Knight
Jane Knight died on Christmas day at Windemere in Oak Bluffs, where she had recently moved from her home in Sterling.
Martha's Vineyard, and in particular, Chappaquiddick, were important to Jane her whole life. She came to Chappy in the summers from the time she was three years old, when her mother's sister married into the Pinney family that had been coming to the Island since the late 1800s. Her mother eventually bought the old Chappaquiddick Wasque Farm, and Jane and her two sisters, Peggy Jones, who died a year ago, and Dorothy (Beum) Phinney, brought their families to the Island each summer. Besides the Knights, Jones, Phinneys, and Pinneys, some of Jane's other Chappy relatives are the Gostenhofers and Tilghmans.
Jane was born June 1, 1923, in Montclair, N.J., to Barton and Dorothy Turnbull, and grew up in Summit, N.J. In 1942, after her second year at Wellesley College, Jane married Richard (Dick) Knight, an Episcopal minister at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston. Soon they went to live at the Cathedral Farm in Hubbardston and then Winchendon, where the church's choirboys went for a country living experience in the 1940s and 50s. With four children, all two years apart, she had her hands full. Even so, it was then she bought and began training a young horse, Domino, who attained a certain notoriety on Martha's Vineyard because of his wild ways. She and Domino were kindred spirits for close to 30 years.
Jane spent many years tending her family - six children in all. She cooked and sewed and did all that went into running a home. In her 40s she finished college in Michigan, where the family lived for seven years, having relocated from Amherst. Each summer she would orchestrate the two-day migration of the family to Martha's Vineyard in a station wagon, sometimes loaded down with six kids and pets, including a pair of ducks.
When the family returned to Massachusetts, Jane acquired her Master's degree in early childhood education and ran a pre-school. She later worked for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, doing early intervention with babies in their homes.
In mid-life Jane returned to the craft of pottery, which she had enjoyed as a young woman, and continued making things out of clay through her last year. Once she built a toad house - a miniature two-story structure with a nicely curving roof that she put in a shady spot in her flower garden to entice a toad to take up residence. After a couple of years there were no toads, but a plant called toad shade started growing right next to the little house.
Jane always had a strong feeling for the natural world and an interest in living creatures of all sorts and sizes - maybe more so the smaller they were. She observed and studied wildflowers, birds, insects, and mushrooms, and could identify most any living thing she'd come across on the beach or in the woods. She knew the location of rare plants and would mark them so that she, and others, could see their cycles of life. Not much made her happier than being able to poke around in the dirt, or look under a rock, and through this fall, she continued to tend the garden at her house in Sterling.
Pets were always a big part of Jane's life, including many dogs and cats over the years. Besides Domino, there were ponies - both when she was a girl and for her children - and other horses she rode, well into her 70s.
Jane and Dick spent many years of retirement traveling, visiting friends, taking canoe trips, skiing, and enjoying their yard. Dick died in 2001, after 58 years of marriage,
Jane's warm-hearted, courteous, and generous nature was appreciated by all who knew her. These qualities sustained her through the last years of her life. Until the end, she had a mischievous sense of humor, and was known for her practical jokes.
Jane is missed by her many friends and family, including her children, Robert Knight, and his wife, Audrey, of Hopkinton, N.H.; Michael Knight of Detroit, Mich.; Richard Knight, and his wife, Daryl, of Chappaquiddick; Laura Lowenstein, and her husband, Matt, of Carlsbad, Calif.; Margaret Knight, and her husband, Sidney Morris, of Chappaquiddick; and Dorothy Knight of Sterling; her grandchildren Benjamin and Gabrielle Knight, Lily and Elliot Morris, all of Chappaquiddick, and Julia Knight, of Hopkinton, N.H.; her sister Dorothy and husband, Arthur Phinney; her brother-in-law Curry Jones; and her many cherished nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Clinton on Saturday, Jan. 3, at 11 am. A celebration of her life will be held on Chappaquiddick at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Jane's memory to Abby's House, a shelter for battered women, at 52 High Street, Worcester, MA 01609.