Jane N. Williams
Northern Lights Memorial Park
2318 Yankovich Road
Fairbanks, AK
Jane Norris Williams passed peacefully on Aug. 24, 2013, in the Pioneers' Home at age 98. She was born Nov. 6, 1914, in Dayton, Ohio, to Frederick and Grace Leotta Richley Norris. Jane received a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree from Otterbein College (Ohio) in 1938, followed by a master's degree in biology at the University of New Mexico.
Jane married Homer O. "Red" Williams in 1942, and together they raised five children. Red and Jane moved to their homestead in Central in 1949. After teaching in the villages of Fort Yukon and Cantwell for several winters, Jane and Red relocated the family to Fairbanks where Jane taught biology at Lathrop High School. She later served as the director for the Fairbanks North Star Borough science department and then headed the educational television department. From 1967 until her retirement in 1974, she directed the media services and archival film library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Teaching was Jane's gift and talent. Many students remained in contact with their former teacher, often expressing gratitude for her positive influence. While at Lathrop High School she was recognized as the Alaska Biology Teacher of the Year.
Jane's special interests included work with the Circle District Historical Society, the Central Museum, the Wickersham House at Pioneer Park, the Alaska Conservation Society, the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, the Fairbanks Community Food Bank and the development of youth hostels in Alaska. She was a founding member of the Fairbanks Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
Jane was an adventurer who loved camping and road trips. She enjoyed traveling with Red through Mexico, Canada, the eastern states and into many national parks. She and Red frequently canoed the Yukon and Birch Creek. After retirement, her love of science took her to the Galapagos Islands, a highlight of her life. At home, Jane's green thumb created beautiful flower and vegetable gardens.
Jane stated she was "first and foremost, a pacifist, an environmentalist and a conservationist." She also wrote "my family, my Unitarian Universalist activities, relatives and circle of friends and former students were the force and network of my life."
She is survived by her children, Robin Harlow, Gene Williams (Shelley Greene), Jane E. Williams, Rourke Williams (Suzanne), and Martha Hirt (Michael); 18 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. She also will be greatly missed by nieces and nephews to whom she was especially close.
She was preceded in death by Red, her loving husband of 63 years; her sister, Grace; and her brothers, Richard, Ross, Robert, Jack, Thomas and Gene.
A memorial service with refreshments will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4448 Pikes Landing Road, in Fairbanks. By her request, Jane's ashes will be scattered at their homestead in Central.
Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Northern Lights Mortuary.
Published by Daily News-Miner on Aug. 27, 2013.
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19 Entries
Loved Her.
Reynold Isto Reyolds
April 7, 2020
Jane was my friend and I will miss her, she will always be a part of my Alaska memories.
Shelly Carlson
September 9, 2013
Jane was an important part of my first experience of going to a friend's home for social occasions and overnights. She was a such a lively, interesting, compassionate and generous person. She came in and out of my life as I grew into an adult. I never encountered her without going away with some kind of a new perspective on life. A very amazing woman. She will be so missed. I'm glad she had so many children!
Betsy Gelvin
September 2, 2013
Jane was my teacher between 1960 and 1963. She was an encourager and mentor during the time I was a high school student and in charge of six younger siblings. We kept in touch by phone and letters for the next 50 years. I was so grateful to be
able to see her once again when I went to my 50th high school reunion in July.

She will always be my answer to the question "Who was your
favorite teacher growing up?.
Carolyn Mattila Holdych
September 1, 2013
Yes, Jane Williams was one of my teachers at LHS 1958-1961. Her daughter was also my classmate and friend. I remember Jane as a good teacher who made class interesting -- and a parent who didn't appreciate my lending a MADD Magazine to her daughter! Being at the time clueless about politics and the world beyond Interior Alaska, I had no idea why. . . Now, I admire her parenting, and still consider her one of the most memorable of my teachers. R.I.P. my old friend and mentor!
August 29, 2013
Jane Williams was a major force in starting up what later became known as the Alaska Film Archives at UAF, where I work now. Had the good fortune to meet and visit with her earlier this year - she was a kind and generous person with many amazing stories to tell! She remains an inspiration to me. Many thanks to her for all she has left us!
Angie Schmidt
August 29, 2013
Mrs. Williams was a great teacher...RIP
Penny Hegenbart
August 29, 2013
I was a young boy when we lived across the street from the Williams in Fairbanks, and remember Mrs. Williams as a very kind human being.
Robert Swires
August 29, 2013
Jane has been friend and mentor to me since the mid 1960's She was a great recorder of history and active preservationist as well as a force in the creation of Creamer's Field. We will sorely missed by all who knew her.
Renee Blahuta
August 28, 2013
Great Aunt Jane my memories of you will last for ever that summer of '94 when I came to visit you and Uncle Red. You were the greatest host anyone could have ever asked for. I will never forget you teaching me how to drive a manual car and how patient you were and once we got to the corner store you politely ask me to drive back. HAHA I am sure you will do some great things in your after life! God Speed my friend!
Scott Fitzgerald
August 28, 2013
I mostly knew Aunt Jane through all the stories my Dad (Jack Norris, Jr) has told me, but I was lucky enough to get to visit her a few summers ago. She was a hero to so many people and I'm sorry for everyone's loss.
Jack Norris
August 28, 2013
Aunt Jane will be missed by many including her family which is spread throughout the lower 48 States as we all called it. I will remember my summer in Central with Aunt Jane when we torn down a mining camp and swimming at the Hot Springs and then eating supper at 12AM as it is hard to keep track of time when it was light for 24 hours or so. I remember Aunt Jane and Uncle Red getting my wedding invitation and coming to Dayton for the glorious event. What a treasure it was to them both in our family. There are many other good memories and too many to say at this time. She will be dearly missed but the memories will go on with all of us.
Janice Fitzgerald
August 28, 2013
I feel honored to have known Jane and her husband Red. She was truly an inspiration. Rest in peace Jane and my condolences to her family.
Teresa Sammis
August 27, 2013
I was fortunate enough to hear Jane speak on a few occasions and she was not only a font of great stories but also a delight!
Diane Fleeks
August 27, 2013
Jane's greatest legacy is her children. They carry her light. She shines and guides through them now much as she did through her years of parenting and teaching. Shine on, Jane!
Bob Groseclose
August 27, 2013
Jane, you were an inspiration to many people. I imagine a lot of them, like myself, rarely took the time to thank you. In my heart, you will remain always a shining example of how to live a good life and be a good person. I'll miss you, friend. Anna
Anna Plager
August 27, 2013
What I remember most about Jane is her interest in Alaskan history. She did a great deal of work to collect and preserve oral histories, both her's and Red's, as well as those of others. Thank you for your dedication, Jane. Your memory and your legacy lives on.
--Robyn Russell
August 27, 2013
We have lost a good friend and inspiration. Jane (and Red) taught us many things, as well as being instrumental in marrying us! What good times we had with them next door in Central. They led us to the UU group where we found our niche, and Jane even taught us mushrooms to enjoy. The community is a better place for them having been memberss of it.
Connie/Carl Jeglum
August 27, 2013
Jane was my mentor -- and the mentor for many other teachers and students over many years. It was my good fortune to have been guided by both Jane and her husband, Red. I have happy memories of both of them, and I'm grateful that I let them know how much they meant to me. Jo Ryman Scott, Manhattan, NY
August 27, 2013
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