By David Adams:
Your mother was my friend for roughly 40 years, and very close friend for some of those years. I moved back to Ohio in 2011 to help care for my mother who was in failing health. Your mom told me at the time that perhaps my restless soul would finally find itself at home, and indeed it has.
Jill was one of the first people I got to know after moving to Maine and knowing not a soul in the state. She was working at Special Services at UMA, and I at Unity College. The people doing that in Maine made up a special community, and she was always a leader and facilitator among the folks involved. Later out community turned more literary through our mutual friendships with people like Terry Plunkett and Herb Coursen. Terry became the dearest friend of my adult life, and after he died, your mother was a driving force in helping to create the Plunkett Poetry Festival and the Terry Plunkett Collection of Maine Poetry in the Katz Library. I hope the university would consider a similar efforts for Jill (possibly a special collection of Shakespeare and of Victorian literature) among the other recognitions she is sure to receive. I was fortunate enough to witness her teaching and to meet many of the students for whom she opened pathways of learning and understanding they might never have found without her. I would number myself in that group. She certainly taught me to love George Eliot. And watching a Shakespeare play with her and Herb was like being in a magical seminar.
I had not seen your mom since the Plunkettfest in 2013, my last visit to Maine. We communicated mostly by email these last years. The last I heard from her was perhaps six weeks or so ago. She was teasing me about having the energy to get a husky puppy at my age! She had also described a hiking trip to Acadia and getting her kayak ready for the season. There was no mention of any health issues. She had already survived so many of those that I felt she must be as indestructible as Louise.
Josh’s email sent me digging through many photos I have of Jill. I wanted to share two of those with you. Among other things, I believe I can take credit for getting her into kayaking. Here is a picture of her paddling off Owl’s Head on the way to Norton Island. She never seemed intimidated by being on the ocean. I think people might have often underestimated her strength. I learned never to do so.
I also found this picture that I think shows off her radiant smile. It is my favorite of her, because she looked so happy.
I believe she is holding in her hand a finished draft of a UMA Self-Study. Perhaps that is the reason for her smile.
I envied her ability to “stay put”, something that eluded me until late in life. That leaves her with quite a legacy of serving and inspiring the people with whom she came into contact.
I do want you to know that I truly treasured knowing Jill and deeply lament her loss. People who read your words can attach their own moments to the long story you describe. Across the years, I’ve seen that some others and daughters have their issues. I’m so pleased to feel the love in your words. I’m certain that meant more to her than anything.