Jane Hillis Thayer died October 11, 2016 at her home. She was 86. Jane was born on June 17, 1930 in New York City. Jane’s parents were Harold Lee Hillis, originally of Davenport, NY and Ruth E. Caldwell of NYC.
Jane attended a noted progressive school, Horace Mann – Lincoln, from K – 12, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and associated with Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She graduated with a Major in Psychology from Cornell University in 1952. Jane married Roger Thayer, also a Cornell graduate, in 1951 at the Riverside Church in NYC. They lived in the Washington, DC area until 1996. Jane got a Master’s in Psychology in 1959 and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1969, both from George Washington University. She Interned at the U.S. St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC after having worked summers in a Private Mental Health Clinic in Syracuse, NY; she also worked at the Alexandria, VA Community Mental Health Clinic and the National Institute of Health, Montgomery County, MD. Jane co-founded the Washington Gestalt Institute and consulted to many psychological groups in that area. She operated a highly respected Private Clinical Psychotherapy Practice in Washington from 1959 to 1999, and in Sengekontacket, Martha’s Vineyard, MA from 2001 to 2014.
Dr. Thayer was a member of many Professional and Honorary Societies, and was included in Who’s Who of American Women since the1980s. She published/ presented papers in Professional Journals, and co-authored a book, “Elderescence…” with her daughter, Peggy, in 2005. Her psychotherapy training was with many noted professionals, including Sheldon Kopp, Fred Klein, and Joe Slavin.
Jane co-founded a unique, maybe one of the first, Inter-racial community groups in Montgomery County, MD in 1959; it was made up of members of the Unitarian Church of Silver Spring, MD and Plymouth Congregational Church of Northwest Washington, DC. It met monthly in member’s homes, socialized, and discussed issues of the day, and continued nearly 40 years until after Jane moved to Martha’s Vineyard.
Jane was active in and past President of the Martha’s Vineyard Mediation Program, Martha’s Vineyard Unitarian-Universalist Society, Massachusetts Conflict Resolution Organizations, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of Washington, DC, Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard, MA.
Dr. Jane was an avid reader of psychological, medical, and political books. Her recent interest was in Peace and Justice for all humans; she was the Chairperson for the Martha’s Vineyard Unitarian Peace Social Action Committee and conceived of and worked to get Holly Near, Peace Singer from California, to present a concert in The Old Whaling Church, Edgartown, MA the summer of 2012.
Jane Thayer was predeceased by her brother, Rev. Walter Hillis, in 2004 and her oldest daughter, Peggy in 2010. Jane is survived by her husband Roger of Sengekontacket, Peggy’s wife Sandy formerly of Island Grove, Martha’s Vineyard, now Salem, CT, son, David Roger of Ft. Collins CO, a Professor of Physics at the University of Wyoming at Laramie, his partner Diane Witteveld of Ft. Collins CO, daughter, Cyndy Jane, a legal assistant for the U.S. Department of Justice Regional Office in Cleveland, OH and her partner, Evelyn Mathis, and Jane’s grandson, David Roger-II and his wife Julie Gundrum of L.A., CA.
A memorial/ celebration of Jane’s life will be held at the UUSMV Chapel later in the year…she wants music by Joan Baez and Holly Near. Donations may be made to Hope Hospice, The Alzheimer’s Association, and Compassion & Choices.