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JAN, author, passed away at the age of 99 years on October 29, 2011, at Cathedral Village in Philadelphia PA, where she had resided for many years.
The staff at the Bishop House deserves a "thank you" for the attentive and friendly care given to her during her extend-ed stay in assisted living; death slowly crept up on her with its "padded feet" that she would only sense.
She was born in Philadelphia, Maryann Josephine Vlachos, on February 23, 1912, daughter of the late Professor Nicholas and Mary Vlachos. Her father was a renowned classical historian and she became a student of history. Her brother died in 1966.
She attended school in Swarthmore PA, including Swarthmore College. Summers were spent in Avalon NJ with extended family. There she met Richard Westcott; they married and had 2 children: Richard and Michael. The marriage ended in divorce.
A stay at home mom she dared herself to write historical fiction in traditional romantic style. Working in the morning, when the children were at school, and then at night, when they were in bed, she authored her first novel "Border Lord" under pen name of Jan Westcott; the novel was published by Crown in 1947 and became a best seller. Jan Westcott became a well-known historical novelist of eleven books. She researched the subject matter of her books assiduously. In 1969 Boston University created a Jan Westcott collection.
In Avalon she met Dr. Robert Barden, who was a prominent radiologist, and later married him in 1954. They lived and worked in Chestnut Hill, PA with her 2 sons and 4 daughters. She loved to entertain and to have extended family converge on the home for joyous holidays. Family was important to her. Her interests over the years were many and diverse: music and the Philadelphia Orchestra, bridge, fishing, read-ing, gardening, travel, church, politics, and the real estate market. She was an expert surf caster and fisherman. Even while at assisted living she helped tend a small garden of flowers just outside of her window to cheer herself up. Her last home was the "Wee Hoose" on Glidden Street, Newcastle, ME.
She is survived by her children, Dr. Richard Westcott and his wife Betsy of Reading, Judge Michael Westcott and his wife Dawn of ME; and stepchildren, Bonnie Barden of PA, Carol Wall and her husband Dr. Jack Wall of NC; Heather Koelle and her husband Richard of PA, and Teresa Archer of NC. She is survived by 14 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. In addition, she is survived by her nieces, Ann and Jane; and her nephew, Nicholas. Dr. Robert Barden predeceased her.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, November 12th, 11 A.M., in Presser Lounge, at Cathedral Village, 2nd Floor, 600 E. Cathedral Road, Phila. PA 19123. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Free Library Philadelphia Foundation, 1901 Vine St., Room 111, Philadelphia, PA 19103. While at Cathedral Village she wrote only about the padded feet of death but also: "The mystery of death comes close as our years climb up--- around us is the unknown, the last step. Aware as we are of it, the present is vital and exciting and precious. Each day gives us the beauty of the earth, the lovely sound of the needed rain."
EDWARD J. KUHN FUNERAL HOME, Inc., West Reading is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be recorded at


Published on Philly.com on Nov. 6, 2011
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