Jane Brock Tonks Cushing

janeJane Brock Tonks Cushing died at her home at Lanier Village Estates in Gainesville, northeastern Georgia, on Sunday, April 28, 2013.   She died peacefully, with family close, at the age of 92.

Mary Jane Brock grew up in western Pennsylvania and attended Wilson College in Chambersburg PA, graduating in 1940.  She received her master’s degree in biochemistry from Bryn Mawr College.  She then worked in Bar Harbor with a team of cancer researchers, and that experience introduced her to Maine and ultimately the connection to Chebeague.

Jane spent all of her summers on Chebeague after marrying Neal Estabrook Tonks in 1946, one year after he returned from combat in WWII.  They lived in Montclair, NJ until 1972, when Neal retired from advertising, and they moved to Savannah, Georgia.  Jane taught college and high school biochemistry for a number of years prior to leaving Montclair and then continued at St. Vincent’s Academy in Savannah until she retired in 1992.  She was an exceptional teacher, loved by students for being both fair and demanding, supporting them in so many ways.  In 1985, she was recognized at a special White House ceremony by President Reagan as a Distinguished Teacher through the Presidential Scholars Program.  Over the years, she did extensive volunteer work, including her last involvement with the Garden Club of Savannah.

Her husband Neal died in 1983, and Jane remarried in 1992 to Bill Cushing.  They had happily celebrated their 20th anniversary in November of 2012. 

In addition to her husband Bill, Jane leaves four children and their spouses who treasured her and will miss her very much – Gretchen and husband Jim Hartling in Philadelphia; Rick and wife Cis (Kuntz) of Cumberland Center, ME; Neal (Cutter) and wife Julie of Charleston SC; William and wife Debbie of Athens GA.  Jane was also dearly loved by Bill’s daughters and their husbands, Lisa and Bill Kent and Marilyn and Kevin Swindall, along with 11 grandchildren and two their husbands in the combined Tonks-Cushing clan, plus one new great-grandchild. It was quite the complement of a happily blended family, and we were all blessed.

Her Chebeague family included: her sister Margaret Gaston and her late husband Sam Gaston; her sister-in-law Margie Tonks and the late Bob Tonks; and a bevy of nieces and nephews.  She is also survived by her sister Edith Brock Miller of Malvern PA.  Her older sister Sara Brock Clark died a few years back.  The Brock sisters were best of friends over a lifetime. 

Jane was a true teacher – patient and caring and wise.  She was supportive and never judgmental.  She accepted what each person had to offer and was always grateful for moments of friendship.  She treasured loyalty and compassion in those she knew, and she valued keen intellect and an inquisitive mind over all things.  She was a terrific cook, and we all benefitted from that welcoming table.  Jane was a careful listener and would hear what someone really said – so she was able to offer just the right kind of support.  She was extraordinarily strong and resourceful – and a great planner.

In lieu of flowers or any other recognition, the Chebeague Island Library was one of her true joys, and the family would encourage donations there or to any charity of choice.

Gretchen Tonks Hartling and Rick, Cutter and William Tonks
April 28, 2013