In memory of Jane M Mather

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Jane Elizabeth McCahan Kome Mather had an amazing life.

Jane M Mather (February 15, 1928 - August 15, 2013) had an amazing life, due mainly to her own wit, intelligence and determination. She was a small-town Pennsylvania girl who won admission to the prestigious University of Chicago at a time when not that many women attended college. She participated in history in her beloved Hyde Park, Chicago neighbourhood, befriending atomic scientists, famous authors, and famous performers. She was an outspoken advocate for liberal causes like peace, civil rights, and freedom of choice.  

Hundreds of people attended Jane's memorial service at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, on September 7, 2013, including many who drove or flew long distances.  A dozen alumni from the Chicago Children's Choir presented two choir pieces she'd requested, including two acclaimed Chicago jazz musicians -- pianist Willie Pickens and Bethany Pickens, his daughter and former choir member, both of whose music Jane admired greatly. 

1950s - Friends with first atomic scientists and comedians

Jane was friends with the first US atomic scientists. Nella Fermi Weiner was a lfelong friend, until her death in 1995. Nella was an artist and accountant. Nella's father was Nobel Prize winning physicist Enrico Fermi

Jane was also close friends for many years with Donald and Sarah (Moll and Sally) Flanders, until their untimely deaths in 1958. Moll was the head of Computational Services for the Manhattan Project.

In the 1950s, Jane Mather also hung around with the comedians rediscovering improvisational theatre at The Compass Theatre -- which some of those same comedians used as the platform to create Second City. (As described in Janet Coleman's book, The Compass, (Knopf, 1990, with an author's acknowledgement for Jane's help.)  She co-wrote a play called Under Deadwood -- an obvious allusion to Dylan's Thomas; Under Milkwood -- which Compass performed.

In particular, Jane was friends with Mike Nichols and Elaine May. During their early comedy days, Jane said, when Mike and Elaine were traveling. Mike would call her collect to let her know they'd arrived safely. But he wouldn't call as himself. He'd call as Marlon Brando ("Just tell her it's Marlon") and an awed longdistance operator would whisper, "I think he means he's Marlon Brando the movie star." And Mother would reply, "What, that bum again? No, I'm not going to accept the charges. Tell him to go away."  

 

Jane Mather, Pentwater summer place

Surviving Jane Mather are her brothers, David McCahan (Ruth) of San Jose, California, and Col Alan McCahan (Lyn) (ret'd) of Alabama. 

She also leaves three grown children --  Penney Kome (Bob Pond); Dylan Kome (Liz Goldsmith); and Christine Mather (Geoff Burks) -- and seven grandchildren. 

The Chicago Children's Choir and the American Journal of Sociology

In the 1970s, Jane was the first business administrator (we'd say Executive Director today) for the interracial Chicago Children's Choir, founded by the Rev Christopher Moore -- a position she held for 15 years. In addition to organizing regular choir tours through Chicagoland and nearby regions, she also organized a fundraising campaign through the Chicago Tribune and raised enough money to take 30 members of the choir on tour through England and Denmark. The choir celebrated its 58th anniversary in 2014, with a five-country tour.

Jane's last job was more than a decade as an Editor with the American Journal of Sociology.

Family life

Jane was married twice, to two very distinguished husbands.

Jane's first husband, Hal Kome, earned an MA in English (with her financial support), parlayed a letter to the editor into a job at Leo Burnett although most advertising agencies weren't hiring Jews then, and rose to sit on the Leo Burnett Board of Directors before he took early retirement. Hal remarried after the divorce from Jane, and had four more children with his second wife, Brenda Handforth. Those children are: Jesse, Sonia, Hunter and Sam Kome.

Jane's second husband, George Victor Mather, was a direct descendant of the Mather clergy that tried women as witches at Salem. Although a gentleman of the old school in many ways, he was also quietly rebellious. He loved Pogo comic books as much as the literary canon -- and theirs was a marriage of phoning each other from bookstores to check what they needed. He became a community college professor and a staunch Teachers' Union supporter.  He studied Tarot cards. In later years, he became an expert in Origami paper folding. He was very proud of all Jane's children, especially his daughter Christine Mather.   

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