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.