Jane (Lester) Lawrence

LAWRENCE, JANE WINDELER (nee MARY JANE LESTER); died September 15, 2013; at age 96. Jane was born Easter morning April 8, 1917 in a sod house in Opheim, Montana where her parents homesteaded. They raised wheat and potatoes and tamed wild horses. At age five, Jane and her family moved back to Michigan. She graduated valedictorian of her class at Northville H.S in 1934. In 1938 Jane married Edmund L. Windeler, an engineer at Pontiac Motor. They settled in Waterford and raised six children. Edmund and Jane shared a sense of community. While he served twelve years on the Waterford Board of Education as well as on the board of the Waterford Youth Coalition, Jane was involved with a myriad of other functions. Jane led Cub and Girl Scout troops, served as PTA president and helped create the Waterford Civic Music Association which later merged with other musical organizations to form the Meadowbrook Music Festival. Jane also served on the scholarship committee of MSU-Oakland which later became Oakland University. She was a member of the Waterford Women's National Farm and Garden Association for over fifty years. For many years Jane helped with flower arrangements at Meadowbrook Hall. Already a contributor to the then Pontiac Press, in 1957 Jane became editor of a weekly newspaper, The Lakeland Tribune. It was in this capacity that Jane was able to organize and promote changes throughout Waterford Township. As a member of the Waterford Business and Professional Women's Club and with the support of the Waterford Jaycees, Jane helped form the Greater Waterford Community Council. This group rallied to meet incorporation requirements for making Waterford a Charter Township. They campaigned for more fire stations, a bigger police department, better water and sewage service, a health ordinance for restaurants and a new Township Planning Commission. In l968 Jane was the first woman appointed to that commission and served for twenty-two years. In l960 the Michigan Department of Natural Resources chose to close the Waterford fish hatcheries. Jane and the community raised $120,000 to purchase the 137 acre site and turn it into a nature center. Jane served on the Board of Directors for the Drayton Plains Nature Center for over forty-five years. She received the Walter P. Reuther Environmental Action Award in l974, the Outstanding Citizen Award from the North Oakland County Chamber of Commerce in 1977 and has been honored for her achievements in 1974, 1977 and 1987 by the State of Michigan. In 1998 Jane was named Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Waterford Youth Coalition. Jane was a 4-H leader and member of the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board. She hosted students from Sweden, Mexico, Japan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kuwait. Jane was a charter member of the Waterford Foundation for Public Education (begun in 1984) and a founding member of the Waterford Youth Assistance Commission. As a strong supporter of the arts, Jane served on the Pontiac-Oakland Symphony Board at various times since 1961 and helped form the Waterford Friends of the Arts which raises funds and scholarships for art and music programs in Waterford schools. Jane was a member of Christ Church Cranbrook and the Episcopal Women's Guild for over fifty years. After Edmund died in 1984 Jane continued for a few years at Windy Acres, the family farm on Hatchery Rd. In 1991 Jane sold her family's property to St. Luke's Episcopal Ministries which built a senior citizen's residence on the site. During the negotiations Jane met Luther Lawrence, a member of St. Luke's Board. They were married in 1992. Jane and Luther became the first senior residents of Canterbury-on-the-Lake. Luther died in 1996. Jane served on the Canterbury Board of Directors until 2007. Jane is survived by sisters Thyrza Wiley and Elizabeth Lester and brother Sprague Lester. Her six children with spouses are Edmund Jr. and Judith Windeler, Donald and Patricia Windeler, Candace and Walter Woessner, Susan and William Ahlstrom, Ralph and Judith Windeler and Gregory and Kimberly Windeler. In addition there are 17 grandchildren plus their spouses and 35 great grandchildren. At her death, the clan including spouses numbered 80 strong! Jane is also survived by Luther's son John, his wife Jeannine; Luther's daughter Pamela and her husband Michael Carmichael, 3 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. A Memorial Service for Jane will be held October 5, 2013 at Canterbury-on-the-Lake. Visitation is at 10:30 a.m., Service is at 11:30 a.m. Donations can be made to Canterbury-on-the-Lake.
Published in The Oakland Press on Oct. 1, 2013