Jane Bradshaw Fenton

Published 2:53 pm Saturday, March 26, 2022

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Jane Bradshaw Fenton of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, began the next adventure of her life on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, at 4:47 p.m.

Jane’s life began March 2, 1939, in Cincinnati, Ohio, when she was born to Naval Capt. Robert Hockenberry Bradshaw and Elizabeth Louise Adams. She has two surviving siblings, Patricia Anne Herzog and Robert Lincoln Bradshaw. Her beloved youngest sister, Sarah Lorraine Moran, passed away on October 17, 2019. Jane’s only daughter, Janet Elizabeth Fenton, resides in Nags Head, North Carolina, along with the greatest joys in Jane’s life, her grandchildren, Fenton Elizabeth Rainey and Isabela Jane Rainey, both of whom reside in Dare County. Jane was Nanny to the girls.

Jane was born into a military family and traveled extensively her whole childhood. Her favorite places were Italy and Puerto Rico; hence, her youngest granddaughter’s name Isabela Jane. After Jane graduated from high school, her travels continued through all of Europe. She loved meeting people and learning about their cultures and traditions. Traveling molded her life-long passion of helping people.

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After traveling, Jane went to school to be a medical transcriptionist. Medicine came naturally as her father was a general practitioner and surgeon during his naval career. She would listen every day as doctors transcribed verbally their cases for that day. She translated many different dialects with a typewriter onto three-ply carbon paper. She worked for Hadley Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Hospital for two decades and loved the diversity of the hospital. She always loved all different kinds of people. All people. And helping.

On December 11, 1972, Jane married Michael Edward Fenton and they were married until his death on September 12, 1990. They met and stayed active, dedicated members of Alcoholics Anonymous, both having over 30 years of sobriety each at the time of their passings.

Jane’s love and interest of people led to her true career as a professional volunteer. As our government became honest about the conditions of the Indian Reservations in our country, Jane took advantage of a program that allowed citizens to print labels for free shipment of goods to reservations. Jane printed labels to mail clothes, blankets and necessities free of charge to Native American families. Jane received the name Evelynn Stover, who resided on Pine Ridge Reservation, and the Stover Family became part of her family. Jane’s living room looked like a full-time mail room with a box for each child’s size and age, and Jane sent as many boxes as she could for everyone. She sent boxes for years and years until getting them to the post office became too much near the end of her life. The Stover family has had three generations since then and are very much part of Jane’s extended family. When the federal government discontinued the free label program, Jane simply xeroxed (this was pre barcodes) them in the hundreds and kept sending packages. Nothing ever stopped Jane. Not even the U.S. government.

In the early 1980s when AIDS rocked America, Jane began taking food to dying victims of the disease because at that time it was a shame-based disease and most of the ill died alone. People were afraid to get close to AIDS victims, but not Jane. Her work continued by joining task forces to serve as many as possible, and eventually she became certified as an end-of-life caretaker. She became friends with many people and reminded them they were loved until their last breath, even when some had been abandoned by their own families. Jane was always there.

After her husband passed away, Jane made her true place of peace, Dare County, her permanent home. She had been coming here since her twenties, always finding the quiet and nature where her spirit felt its best. As Jane arrived, so did her passions, and even here she sent boxes to Pine Ridge with the help of the people in her new township. She joined the local HIV Task Force and continued to remind the sick how truly loved and special they were to this world to their end.

Jane loved animals and marched each year with her granddaughters for the SPCA at the Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. She always taught that a caring and giving life is the only way, and that giving to animals is especially important as they have no voice. Jane’s dogs were Brigadier, Frazier, her beloved Meggie, Mariah and her heart dog she called Honey. Honey passed the same week as Jane. Her family felt at peace saying, “Honey is there waiting.”

Jane’s greatest pride was in her grandchildren. She said daily that the grace and strength in Fenton and Isabela was like nothing she’d ever seen. She was reminded that they didn’t fall off an apple cart but an apple tree.

Jane wrote a letter to someone every day. Her handwriting was perfect, and she would tell her girls that penmanship was important, but not as important as making sure you always send a thank you and return any covered dish with something in it. Anyone who knows Jane knows about her apple cakes, chicken puffs, Chex mix, olive spread and crabbies at Christmas. She delivered them like an elf and called it a party in a bag. She was always reminding people how special they are in this world.

Always the seeker, Jane became very interested in the after-life in her later years. She always knew there was something more and believed in natural healing, always going back to old-school remedies. “Nature always has the answers,” she would say.

Jane was happy that she got to be true to her own self, completely authentically Jane. Depending on which day you caught her, she could be a fairy, a gypsy or a mermaid.

From Janet: 

What I know to be true about my mother is that she is now on a new and exciting journey with all the people she missed and loved so much. Mom left me a letter that said, “I am stepping into another dimension where life continues in a different and more beautiful form than we know here. I am not gone, I have gone home to be with God.” She continued by asking me “not to mourn her unhealthily but only in the wonderful memories and feelings and know in your heart that one day we will all be together again. Live your life, child. I love you always, Mom.”

Our family — Fenton, Isabela and myself — hope everyone heeds her words (and you better, Jane is a force to be reckoned with if not). Please, no sadness.

The family does not need sympathy cards, but we would like little stories that will make us smile. No flowers are necessary; we simply want everyone to remember what was truly important to Jane and to us, what is the very most important thing in life — to spread kindness love and peace. My mother always said, “Acceptance will bring you peace.” I have it tattooed in her handwriting on my arm. I accept she is not gone but lives through everyone she touched.

She left this for me to be sure and share:

“To those I love and those who love me

When I am gone, release me, let me go,

You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears;

Be happy that we had so many beautiful years.

I gave to you my love; you can only guess

How much you gave to me in happiness.

I thank you for the love you have shown,

But now it’s time I traveled on alone.

So grieve for me awhile, if you grieve you must,

Then let your grief be confronted by trust.

It’s only for a while that we must part,

So bless the memories within your heart;

I won’t be far away, for life goes on;

So if you need me, call and I will come.

Though you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near,

All my love around you soft and clear;

And when you must come this way alone,

I’ll great you with a smile and say ‘Welcome home!’”

Come celebrate Jane Fenton’s life with us:

Saturday, April 2, 2022

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wanchese Community Building

The family will hold a sunrise scattering of her ashes at Coquina Beach, where her husband’s ashes were also scattered.