Jane Wahlberg died May 9, 2011 at Centre Crest in Bellefonte following a brief stay after she fell in late March.
Jane was born on April 26, 1918 to Faye and Claude Heinlein in Smethport. Claude was fighting the war in Europe at the time and returned home sick because of a poison gas attack. He died while Jane was still very young, and she was raised in Kane by her mother and her maternal grandparents, Bessie and Holly Robinson.
She graduated from Kane High School in 1936, went on to Drexel University and later graduated from business school. She worked in offices in D.C. during the war and married William Nicolas in 1942. She accompanied him to various Army assignments in Kansas, Georgia, Virginia and Massachusetts during World War II as he prepared to join the occupation forces in Japan after the war. After he returned from occupied Japan, she and Nick moved to Colorado where Nick practiced law. They had three children together, Robert, Wendy and Michele, but Nick died before knowing his youngest child.
Pregnant with two young children, Jane moved back home to Kane. After Michele was born, Jane bought a house and settled in again with her mother and grandparents. Two years later, she fell in love and married Joseph Marasco. Joe was a 50-something bachelor who became “Dad” to three children, and added another of his own, Toni Ann, to the family in 1955. Joe developed health problems soon thereafter and was seriously ill off and on until his death in 1966. Jane continued to raise the family alone, and all four children attended college and went on with their lives.
Jane then met and married the love of her life, Neil Wahlberg, in 1975. Neil had four children of his own, David, Garey, Jawn and Lisa. In her usual loving manner, Jane was soon “Mom” to all, and when asked, she would respond that she had eight children and their spouses. She was “Grama Jane” to all the family grandchildren regardless of their genetic composition, and eventually became “Mom” or “Gram” to some of their friends as well. She was a loving, giving person who could feed six on a budget plan for three, and welcomed any and all into her home and her arms.
After Neil’s death in 1995, Jane stayed on at Neil’s family farm, with loving assistance from son Dave and his wife, Judi, next door. She decided to relocate to Bellefonte in 2004, a few miles from her daughter Michele and her husband John Marchek. She also remained very involved with all her other children (Bob and his wife Nadyne Nicolas, Wendy and her husband Michael Schneider, Toni and her husband Bill Ludwig, Garey and his wife Diana Wahlberg, Jawn and his wife Chris Wahlberg, and Lisa Wahlberg and her partner Kevin McCulley), as well as all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The newest member of the family, Isabel Jane Nicolas, was named in honor of her great-grandmother.
All during her life, Jane was a talented artist, an excellent seamstress, a great cook, an avid reader, a wonderful gardener, but her passion was playing bridge. Within a month of moving to Bellefonte, she belonged to three bridge groups, and enjoyed those friendships as much as she had enjoyed her lifelong friends from Kane. Every spring she made large flower containers for the entrance of Fox Hill Apartments, and maintained a vegetable garden at her daughter’s Benner Township home throughout her life in Bellefonte.
Though Jane’s life was not easy – she survived three bouts of cancer in addition to having been widowed three times – she was the eternal optimist. She always believed there was something exciting and wonderful around the next corner. Her strength of will was legendary, and her children all learned from her that when faced with adversity, the way to solve the problem was to find something to do. Scrub the floor, paint the shutters, make some soup… whatever. Feeling sorry for oneself was not acceptable.
So now, those of us who loved her (and that includes just about everyone who knew her) will carry on. We’ll plant flowers, play with our kids and grandkids, appreciate a sunset, and thank her for her gifts of love and laughter.
Private services will be held in Kane at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to a charity of choice. Jane was particularly fond of her pets, so any animal rescue service would be appropriate.
Arrangements are under the direction of Wetzler Funeral Service Inc., Bellefonte, PA.