Mary Jane Rightor Olney died on August 2, 2014 having lived with brain cancer for over a year. She was 69. She was born in Montgomery, Alabama and was a graduate of The Garrison Forest School in Maryland. In 1963, she left her southern roots to attend Radcliffe College and graduated in 1967. She received her Masters degree in Education from Harvard in 1968 and joined her husband as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil in 1969.
Resettling in Lanesville (Gloucester), Massachusetts in 1974, she co-founded the Lanesville Pre-School Center, juggling the demands of raising two children with the responsibilities of running an early childhood education program. In 1987 she moved with her family from Lanesville to Wenham, Massachusetts and started a public pre-school program in the nearby town of Rowley. From there she was hired as a full-time primary school teacher at the Pine Grove School in Rowley, where she taught until her retirement in 2009. Since then she has been actively involved in the raising of her four grandsons.
Mary Jane (or MJ) was a tireless promoter of education and children of all ages. She single-handedly arranged for the designation and protection of a vernal pool near the Pine Grove School and used it as an educational tool for many years. Her graceful defiance of her illness has been an inspiration to friends and family. She leaves her husband, Christopher; her daughter Anne and her husband, Gareth Bevan of Wenham; her son, Nicholas and his wife, Sasha of Brooklyn, New York; and four grandsons, Owen, Rhys and William Bevan and Oscar Olney. She is also survived by her two sisters, Anne Rightor Thornton of San Francisco and Martha Rightor Crutchfield of Baltimore and a large and loving extended family. She will also be missed by the many communities and friends that she fostered over many years.
A celebration of her life will be held later this summer. Arrangements by the Campbell Funeral Home 525 Cabot Street, Beverly. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Ave. Boston, MA. 02215. Information, condolences at www.campbellfuneral.com.
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