Jane Hendee McMullen Behlke, 87, passed away Oct. 1, 2013, at the Alaska Pioneers' Home in Anchorage. A celebration of her life will occur from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge.
She was born Nov. 29, 1925, in Seward to Paul Clarence and Luella (Kelsey) McMullen. Jane's childhood in Seward and Cooper Landing fostered an independent, adventurous spirit, a love of learning, and a wonderful sense of humor. She enjoyed entertaining all listeners with stories of her childhood in Alaska.
After her father's death in 1938, her mother was kept busy running a grocery store and raising two young children. As a result, Jane spent her summers in Cooper Landing. Those summers were an important aspect of a childhood she considered idyllic. In 1940, she convinced her mother to purchase a family property at Cooper Landing.
The coming of World War II meant Jane graduated from high school in Oregon. She then received a bachelor's degree from Whitman College and a master's in chemistry from the University of Michigan. After college, she returned to teach elementary school in Seward for three years before becoming registrar at the University of Alaska. It was there, in Fairbanks, that she met and married Charles Behlke in 1953.
Education and jobs took Chuck and Jane away from Alaska to spend time in California, Oregon and the Netherlands. In 1965, they settled in Fairbanks where Chuck was professor and then dean at the University of Alaska School of Engineering. Jane soon returned to the classroom, teaching fifth grade for decades and was named Fairbanks Teacher of the Year in 1978. Later, her dramatic flare made her popular as the science resource teacher for all Fairbanks elementary schools.
After retiring in 1987, Jane, with her son and husband, built a remote cabin along Chena River headwaters. She also served as chair of the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Chuck and Jane then built a log home at the Kenai Lake property she held for more than 70 years.
Jane's volunteer activities included Fairbanks Community Food Bank, University of Alaska Museum of the North and the lively Cooper Landing Sexy Senior Dumpster Cleaners.
Jane is preceded in death by her husband, Charles Edward Behlke; her parents, her stepfather, Raymond James; and brother, Paul K. McMullen.
She is survived by her children, Susan Foley (Richard), Carol Fox (Jerry), and James Behlke (Liz), and grandchildren, Matthew and Chad Foley, Dylan and Kelsey Fox, and Aurora Behlke.
Remembrances may be sent c/o 4400 E. 135th Ave., Anchorage, Alaska 99516. Memorial donations to benefit the elderly and hungry may be made to the Jane Behlke Fund, the Alaska Community Foundation, 3201 C St., No. 110 and No. 8232, Anchorage, AK 99503.
Arrangements entrusted to the Cremation Society of Alaska. Words of comfort can be shared at www.alaskacremation.com
Published by Daily News-Miner on Nov. 8, 2013.