Jane Elizabeth Tarr Wilson, 91, living most recently in Virginia Beach, Virginia died peacefully at her residence on August 8, 2023. Jane was born March 13, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan to Wilson Edwin“Jack” Tarr and Gladys Margeurite Davidson. She spent most of her childhood living in South Bend, Indiana. She married Jerry J. Wilson of Connersville, Indiana on June 27, 1953 in South Bend.
She graduated from South Bend John Adams High School where she was active in the Glee Club and played softball. Her lifelong love of gardening began with her working in a Victory Garden during WW II. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Education specializing in Speech Pathology in 1953 from Indiana University. She was involved in the YWCA, Red Cross, House Intramurals and was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority. She worked in the Studebaker, where her father worked, library during the summers which made her very happy. Jane lived with children with disabilities for a semester as part of her studies. She always knew she wanted to teach and support children. She was Assistant Waterfront Director at Camp Eberhart during this time as well.
After a brief stay in Merced, CA due to Jerry’s US Air Force duty, she settled in Connersville, Indiana, where she remained for over 50 years. Jane was a Hoosier in all definitions of the word. Despite leaving Indiana to live in Lake St. Louis, MO and then Virginia Beach, VA, Indiana was her place in all ways.
While in Connersville, she became a Speech Pathologist for the Fayette County School Corporation which she dearly loved. Her contribution to the community and children went beyond the classroom walls. From the time her children were old enough to swim, she was involved the swimming community in one form or another. For at least 20 years, she coached swimming, drove kids to swim meets, kept track of times and encouraged young people to be the best they could, whether they were first or last.
She had a vegetable garden and lush beautiful landscape yard at every house she lived in. Having her hands in the soil was a spiritual endeavor.
She was most proud of being sober for 30 years – her decision to go to rehab was hers and hers alone.
Another anchor in her life in Connersville was the Presbyterian Church where she would sing her heart out up the choir loft. Music was and remained an important spiritual companion throughout her life. She was a deacon and involved in many aspects of the church. She was part of advocating for the church becoming an open and affirming church where all are welcome to worship. She was active in the 18-hole Ladies Golf Association with one of the highlights being a co-chair of the 66th annual Indiana Women’s Golf Association championship hosted at the local golf course.
In 2001, her community involvement was honored with Connersville Distinguished Citizen Award.
Jane was also passionate about saving and preserving the environment. While she supported many organizations, the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation(WACF) was her love. Lake Wawasee, located in Northern Indiana was a respite for she and Jerry after they bought a house on the lake. She welcomed children and grandchildren and delighted in having everything just so. Her heart was full watching the kids play on Natti Crow beach. Her love of the lake and desire to protect the lake led her to become a board member. She was deeply honored to be on the board of WACF. In 2006 she was honored with the Cattail Award for Outstanding Environmental Service and in 2014 was named as a member of the Eli Lilly Lifetime Founders Society.
She lived in Virginia Beach, VA since 2014.
She is preceded in death by her husband Jerry J Wilson, her parents and her brother Jack Tarr.
Survivors include her four children: James D of San Rafael, CA, John D (Kathleen) of Virginia Beach, VA, Thomas D (Carolyn) of St. Louis, MO, and Jennifer J (Lisa) of Oakland, CA; a sister, Joan Tarr Bennett (Richard) of Indianapolis; nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Memorial celebrations will be held at:
First Presbyterian Church, 700 N. Central Ave, Connersville, IN 47331 on Friday, September 29 at 3:00 pm with light food and fellowship after in the church community hall.
Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation Amphitheatre at 11586 N. State Road 13, Syracuse, IN 46567 on Sunday, October 1 at 3:00pm. Light food, drink and conversation to follow in the WACF Pavilion.