PORTLAND - Jane Costello Wellehan, Mother, Grandmother, Life Adventurer, 80, of Portland died Jan. 25, 2019 at home with family following a 19-month journey with pulmonary fibrosis marked by grace, good humor, and abundant love given and received. She was born July 29, 1938, in Lewiston, the youngest of Russell Hill and Jane Cassidy Costello's three children.
Jane attended Lewiston High School and graduated from Bates College with a B.A. in English. She married Daniel J. Wellehan Jr. of Lewiston in 1959. They were married 40 years. The young couple moved to Portland in 1960. Jane had prayed that her first child would be a girl, and she was blessed with six daughters. The household buzzed with activity; boisterous basement concerts were a favorite winter activity. The family spent every summer since 1967 at Scarborough's Pine Point Beach, and Jane made the season magical. A ping pong table dominated the living room and a vast assortment of ice cream dominated the freezer.
Jane was a vibrant, passionate woman who saw beauty everywhere. Driving her children in the family station wagon, "Look girls, look!" was her constant refrain as she pointed to an intriguing cloud, a piece of the ocean, or an old cemetery. Every holiday was a cause for merriment. Even Washington's Birthday was celebrated, with silhouettes of the first president taped to doors and axe-shaped sugar cookies.
Community service at every level was an essential part of Jane's life. She loved leading Brownie and Girl Scout troops for 13 years. She worked as a volunteer chaplain at Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital. Jane was among the first Catholic women to serve communion in Portland and one the first women to read the Epistles to the congregation during Mass at Sacred Heart Parish. A very active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 35 years, Jane sponsored many other recovering women through the last year of her life. She served on nonprofit and corporate boards including Community Health Services, Community Counseling Center, Portland Ovations, Sebago Inc., and Sweetser. Portland Ovations, which presents a wide variety of performing artists and education and outreach programs, was one of Jane's deepest commitments. Jane was a board member for 29 years and served as board secretary for 17 years. She created a fund to help ensure the organization's future. Jane generously supported many arts and social service agencies, both major, established organizations and newer grassroots efforts. She had a special interest in helping women in transition.
Jane was passionate about all the arts. She collected work by Maine artists and donated her significant art collection to Bates College Museum of Art. She also established the Jane Costello Wellehan Endowment to support the Museum. Jane was a talented photographer who took thousands of photographs and studied at Maine Photographic Workshops (now Maine Media Workshops). A committed traveler, Jane explored five continents and six of the seven seas. She loved learning about people, places, and cultures that were new to her. Jane also loved Disney World and delighted in many trips there with her children and grandchildren. One of her greatest joys was her trips with each grandchild when they turned nine and 15.
Jane had a gift for friendship; she nurtured many friendships that spanned decades and developed new friendships her whole life. She had the unusual quality of accepting people as they are. Jane adored animals, especially her beloved Labradoodle Obie. Jane was kind, classy, generous, a fabulous dresser, a fierce game player known to utter an occasional expletive during Skip-Bo or mahjong, and wickedly funny. She was a spiritual searcher, a voracious reader, and an avid gardener and knitter. Her final knitting project was her pink pussy hat, which she wore proudly in the 2017 Women's March as she marched with friends, daughters, and granddaughters.
Jane is survived by her six daughters, three sons-in-law; and 10 grandchildren: Sheila Wellehan of Cape Elizabeth; Katie Wellehan of West Linn, Ore. and her sons Aidan and Noah Clark; Jane Wellehan and her husband David Ruff of Portland and their daughters Bridget and Maggie; Mary Wellehan of Portland and her daughter Lila; Deirdre Lacambra and her husband Mark of Seattle, Wash. and their children Sophia and Jack, and Shauna Damboise and her husband David of Yarmouth and their children Madeline, Amelia, and Jake. She is also survived by her cousin Joanne Bresciani of Wellesley, Mass., who was like a sister to her. Jane was predeceased by her parents; and her siblings, Alice Dillingham and James R. Costello Sr.
Her family would like to thank Dr. Jennifer Palminteri of Chest Medicine Associates; her Comfort Keepers caregivers, especially Janice Ash and Farah Paradise, and the staff of Hospice of Southern Maine for their devotion and compassion.
Visiting hours honoring Jane's life will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, at Jones, Rich & Barnes Funeral Home, 199 Woodford Street, Portland. Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Sacred Heart/Saint Dominic Parish, 65 Mellen Street, Portland. Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery, 672 Stevens Avenue, Portland.
Please visit www.jonesrichandbarnes.com
to sign Jane's online guest book.
In lieu of flowers,
donations may be made
in Jane's memory to:
or to the charity
of your choice.
50 Monument Square
Portland, Maine 04101
Published by Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Jan. 28, 2019.