Jane Walter Venzke, PT, EdD, FAPTA, 66, of Concord, passed away in her home Saturday, October 8, 2011 after a long illness. Her husband, Craig Venzke and daughter Sonya Knowlton were with her when she died.
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Jane was born March 2, 1945 to Donald D. Walter and Lorine May (Masse) Walter at Newport Hospital in Newport. She moved to Lebanon, in 1948 with her parents and brother, Donald D. Walter, Jr. and received her education in the Lebanon School district.
She is predeceased by her father, Donald D. Walter, Sr., (a Lebanon painting contractor for fifty years) her mother, Lorine May Walter (a New Hampshire state representative and community organizer) and her brother, Donald D. Walter Jr. (a Lebanon/West Lebanon painting contractor) and her grandmother, Mary (Frances) Walter (Nana) who not only helped to raise her, but provided her with major support as she built her career.
Dr. Venzke is survived by her husband, Dr. Craig P. Venzke of Concord; her daughter, Sonya (Venzke) Knowlton and husband Aaron Knowlton; grandson Caleb Knowlton and granddaughter Autumn Knowlton of Concord; her loving nieces, nephews and their families including Mr. Dale Walter and his wife Toni Adario of Boston; Mr. and Mrs. (Sonya Walter) Stephen Roberts of Meredith; Mr. and Mrs. Will Walter of Concord; Mr. and Mrs. Tom Walter of Manchester, and Mr. and Mrs. (Sue Walter) Jon Merrill of West Lebanon. In addition, she is survived by her sister-in-Law, Christine Walter of West Lebanon, and her childhood friend and her family, Maggie Moore-West of Lyme.
After graduating from Lebanon High School, Jane attended the University of Connecticut where she received her baccalaureate degree in Physical Therapy. She was the Administrative Director of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover for twelve years before obtaining her MEd degree from the University of Vermont and becoming the Associate Director of the Arthritis Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She completed her EdD degree at the University of Vermont in 1989 and moved to the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she could continue her research in rheumatology and join a physical therapy educational program. In 1991 she accepted the position of Director of Physical Therapy at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and in 1993 also became the Director of the Physical Therapy Program at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Yearning to fulfill her dream of bringing a physical therapy education program to New Hampshire, Jane returned to New Hampshire in 1994 to become Dean of Science and Director of the Physical Therapy Program at Notre Dame College in Manchester. After upgrading and revamping the science programs, she went on to become Dean of Health Sciences and established programs in physical therapy and physician assistant studies. When Notre Dame closed in May, 2002, Franklin Pierce University acquired the Physical Therapy Program, Jane first consulted FPU for a year and then joined the University as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Director of the Physical Therapy Program.
The graduate studies area grew over the years and Jane became the Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies at the University in 2007 where she launched the first doctoral programs at the University and added several new masters level programs. Jane left the University on medical disability in 2010.
Jane was a long time member of the American Physical Therapy Association serving on state, regional and national levels including President of the New Hampshire Chapter of the APTA, President of the national Section for Education, Board of Directors of the national association and Vice President of APTA on the national level. Living in Lebanon, for 44 years, Jane served tirelessly on numerous community boards (usually related to health organizations) in both Lebanon and Hanover as well as on the state level. In 1981 she was appointed by President Reagan to the White House Conference on Aging and to membership of the National Arthritis Advisory Board. These were two national appointments that she credited to her introduction to the politics of public policy.
While living in Lebanon, Jane was an active member of the Lebanon United Methodist Church, the Kimball Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, the APTA, and the United Way.
In lieu of flowers, Jane's wish is for donations to be sent to the Franklin Pierce Manse in Concord; checks made payable to "The Pierce Brigade" and mailed to P.O. Box 425, Concord, NH 03302. Jane and her husband had most recently published an article on First Lady Jane Means Appleton Pierce and were working on her biography at the time of Jane's death.
Calling hours will be Thursday, October 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Ricker Funeral Home, 56 School Street, Lebanon.
Services will be held Friday, October 14, at 1 p.m. 14 at the Lebanon United Methodist Church, 18 School Street Lebanon, followed by burial with a short reception at the church after.
Condolences can be shared with the family through an online guest book by visiting www.rickerfuneralhome.com.
Published in The Concord Monitor on Oct. 12, 2011