- About Us
Jane Elizabeth Ainsworth was born on February 2, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York. She had one sibling, a sister Helen and a half-brother on her father’s side, Thomas. She grew up in Hempstead, on Long Island and attended West Hempstead High School. She graduated in 1946 with her friend Frances Mitchell with whom she stayed in touch for the rest of her years.
Sometime in her late childhood Jane’s grandfather, Thomas Ainsworth, built a summer home on White Lake, in the Adirondack Mountains just outside of Woodgate. Thomas owned a lumber yard and with his great supply of lumber he built a wondrous “camp” with four bedrooms, front and back screened porch, kitchen and a large dining room with a fireplace that heated the entire place. Later a living with a beautiful rock fire place and attic above was added. Sometime soon after that one of the bedrooms was sacrificed to allow for an indoor toilet and sink with cold running water. What was left of the bedroom was a small space that was coveted by teenagers wanting their own room. There never was hot water at the camp, baths were taken in the lake with Ivory soap (because it floats). Many happy summer days were spent at the camp. Upon his death Thomas left the camp to Jane and Helen. One of the traditions that was carried forward was the requirement to swim across the lake and back before one could go out in a boat on their own. All four of Helen’s children and all six of Jane’s children enjoyed their time spent at the camp and hearing the stories of their childhoods. Helen and Jane had a tradition of eating Limburger cheese when they were together at the lake – it was the only time they bought this smelly cheese. The two sisters also passed down the tradition of skinny dipping after dark. Somewhere there must be an echo today of Jane exclaiming “Oh it’s lovely, just lovely” as she entered the freezing cold spring-fed mountain lake.
Jane went to Elmira College in Elmira, New York for one year. She said back then that women went to college to get their “Mrs.” degree. She always wished she’d have stayed and finished her degree. After her one year at Elmira she moved back with her mother and two cats while she attended business school for one year and later worked for the telephone company (AT&T), which they called “Ma Bell”. She worked there with her friend Jane Fiser. They were “tub mates” and took calls together at a switchboard. Jane Fiser applied for a job as a flight attendant (back then they were called “stewardesses”) and was told to report to San Francisco. In 1955 the two of them got in a car and drove across the U.S. This was a very rare thing for young ladies to do at the time. Jane got a transfer with Ma Bell and they shared an apartment with their friend Leta.
On New Year's Eve 1955, "Janie" (as Jane Fiser called her throughout their friendship) and Jane were invited to a party. There she met Navy Lt. Clifford Moran, who was stationed in San Diego. His pick-up line was “Hi. I’m Cliff. Drop over sometime”. The girls thought he was charming but couldn’t remember his last name the next day.
Something must have happened that New Year’s Eve night, the stars must have been in alignment. After seeing each other only 5 more times in the next 5 months they were wed at Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco Bay on May 19, 1956. They honeymooned in Lake Tahoe on their way to Pensacola Naval Base in Pensacola, Florida where Cliff began his pilot’s training. They stopped in Little Falls, Minnesota to meet many of the Moran relatives who had not made the trip to California for the wedding. One of Jane’s greatest regrets was that they had not insisted that Dave and Alma Moran (Cliff’s parents) fly out and join them in their marriage ceremony. Upon seeing Jane for the first time on the front steps of her home, Alma remarked, “And she’s pretty, too!"
In Pensacola, they rented a converted garage and began their married life off base. Oh, what an adventure it was! There were many stories of playing cards with their landlords, looking into a drawer before reaching into it to check for bugs and “Old Doc Killum” who came once a month to battle the ever-present bugs. There were stories about stepping into a nest of fire ants while hanging the laundry.
The couple purchased their first home on Ideal Court, near Naval Air Station Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. They enjoyed entertaining friends and family in their new home as well as at Jane’s beloved childhood lake home, “the camp”.
Sometime late in the summer of 1959 Jane had an ectopic pregnancy and was rushed into emergency surgery. Given only a 5% chance of having children the couple made the decision to adopt. Their first daughter Valerie arrived (courtesy of Catholic Charities) in early December 1960 after family members visiting from Minnesota for the Thanksgiving holiday had returned home.
Shortly after that Jane and Cliff moved into base housing in Bath, Maine. They again applied to adopt a baby but when the agency called Jane told them to call back the following week – she was pregnant! She delivered their second daughter Elaine on January 2nd of the following year.
Over the next seven years Cliff was stationed in Rhode Island twice and attended Post Naval Graduate School in Monterey, California. They had 4 more children, Clifford (Duane), Melanie, Holly and Geoffrey. She loved children and used to say had she married earlier, she would have had 6 more! The family moved to Leesburg, VA and Cliff worked in Washington, D.C. for a couple of years before retiring from the Navy. The family then moved to Brainerd, MN to be near Cliff's family and home where he grew up.
In 1980 they built a house in Sartell, MN. Jane worked as Library Assistant at Sartell High School. She loved the interaction with students and teachers and they all loved her. After her retirement, Jane travelled around the world, vacationing and visiting children and grandchildren. Among the places she visited were France, Ireland, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Jane and Cliff later bought a cabin on Sand Lake in northern MN where they spent summers and weekends with friends, children and grandchildren. They drove regularly to the YMCA in Grand Rapids to swim in the pool for exercise. After 56 years of marriage to Jane, Cliff passed away in July of 2012. Jane then moved to Palos Park, Illinois to live with her daughter Melanie and family. A year later, her son Geoffrey died suddenly while camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. He was 43. She used to say,
"Not sure why the Good Lord is still keeping me around...", because so many of her friends and family had gone before her.
In her final years Jane struggled with memory loss. Throughout this struggle, she was always very graceful and kind. She said thank you to those around her repeatedly. Despite being unaware of the effects this illness would have on her, she never complained and always maintained a positive demeanor. After a long, beautiful life of 89 years, she passed away June 15, 2018 at Melanie's home. At the time of her death she was surrounded by her two daughters and her caretaker of 5+ years, Elizabeth O'Donnell.
She is survived by 5 children: Valerie, Elaine, Clifford, Melanie and Holly; 13 grandchildren: Kelli Cairns, Trevor Wellen, Nicole Wellen, Leah Wellen, David Moran, Elizabeth Moran, Kathryn Moran, James Cantorna, Fiona Cantorna, Jack Cantorna, Logan Hansen and Danielle Hansen; and three great-grandchildren: Sammy Wellen, Emily Wellen and Autumn Wellen.
In lieu of flowers, we are asking that all donations be given to the Alzheimer's Association in Jane Moran's name. There are three ways to give:
Address: Alzheimer's Association
225 North Michigan Ave, Floor 17
Chicago. IL 60601
(note: please make any checks payable to: Alzheimer's Association)