Jane Alice Blossom Tolbert, 90, of Moorhead, MN, died January 5, 2016. Jane was born on September 23, 1925, in West Springfield, MA, to William Alden and Anna May (nee Lee) Blossom. She was an only child but shared her parents' home with an aunt, Bessie Viola Lee. She is an eleventh-generation descendant of John and Pricilla Alden of Mayflower fame and a 29th generation descendant of William the Conqueror.
Jane attended elementary school and high school in West Springfield, graduating in 1943. She entered Bates College, Lewiston, ME, that fall, majoring in history and government, graduating magna cum laude the spring of 1947. During college, she was a distinguished member of the debate squad and took part in international competition.
After graduation, she held a position with the national offices of the Congregational Church in Boston and then took a position at Endicott College, Beverly, MA. In 1952, she went to work for the Union Trust Bank in Springfield, MA, until her marriage.
On November 7, 1953, Jane married Robert J. Tolbert (Pelican Rapids, MN) in Old First Church, Springfield. Jane and Bob moved to Moorhead, to continue Bob's education at Moorhead State Teachers College. Jane was employed by the Fargo Forum in the display ad section serving Moorhead businesses, until late spring of 1955.
In the fall of 1955, Jane took a job as secretary in the Psychology Department, Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) when Bob entered graduate school. Their first son, James R. Tolbert, was born in May 1956. For the next three years, Jane did free-lance typing and stayed at home to care for their son.
In 1959, the Tolbert family moved to Morgantown, WV, where Bob had accepted a faculty position at West Virginia University. While in Morgantown, Jane became president of The Newcomers Club at the university and continued to be involved in various volunteer efforts. In April of 1960, she gave birth to their second son, William A.B. Tolbert.
In 1963, the family returned to Moorhead, where Bob had accepted a position at Moorhead State College (now Minnesota State University Moorhead). Jane continued to work out of the home, free-lance typing and volunteering on many community projects, as she cared for their two boys. For example, Jane was a driver for Meals-on-Wheels, President of the Moorhead Friends of the Library Association, President of the Faculty Wives Association, and active in volunteering at the First Congregational Church, Moorhead.
During these years, Jane's love of learning compelled her to enroll in a wide variety of college/university courses. She eventually entered the Master of Liberal Arts program and earned her Masters degree in 1988.
With her sons growing up, Jane had more time available to seek out employment. During the 1970s, she worked part time for Dr. Paul Abrahamson as an administrative assistant. In 1978, she joined the Education Department of St. Luke's Hospital (now part of Sanford Health) in Fargo, ND. She wrote the in-house newspaper Gist, held tele-conferences and assisted hospital employees continue their education. She retired in June 1989.
While the boys were growing up, she organized and made most of the preparations for the Tolbert family's extensive camping, canoeing, and backpacking trips around the country.
In retirement, Jane and Bob traveled extensively, both in this country and overseas. She continued her interest in photography with several of her pictures being recognized locally. She compiled albums of photos for each of their overseas trips, which have been shared with various groups.
The last years of her life were spent courageously fighting Alzheimer's Disease. For over ten years she continued to live at home but entered St. Catherine's Living Center, a nursing home in Wahpeton, ND, in August 2013.
Jane is survived by her loving husband, Bob; her two sons, Jim (Peggy) and Bill (Loree); five grandchildren, Cisa Keller (Andy), Aaron Manulikow (Sara), Jenny Torning (Nils), Dan Tolbert (Alyssa), Marcus Tolbert; and four great-grandchildren, Iris Keller, Stella Keller, Waylon Manulikow, and Nora Torning.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 16, 2016, at 1 pm, at the First Congregational Church, Moorhead. A reception will follow after the memorial service.
Memorials may be made in memory of Jane Tolbert to: Alzheimer's Association, St. Catherine's Employee Scholarship Fund, Chahinkapa Zoo (Wahpeton, ND), or St. Catherine's Living Center.
Online guestbook: www.korsmofuneralservice.com
(Korsmo Funeral Service, Moorhead, MN)