PALM CITY, FL – Jane Ely Mace, of the Ely family of Westfield, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully on January 27, 2023, in Palm City, Florida, after a year-long battle with breast cancer. Her remains will be interred in her family’s plot in Pine Hill Cemetery of Westfield, Massachusetts later this year.
Jane Morrison Ely was born in Westfield, Massachusetts on September 9, 1923. She was the daughter of Charles Franklin Ely, a lawyer in Westfield and brother to Governor Joseph Ely, and Georgiana Morrison, who grew up in La Porte, Indiana, but spent over seventy years in Westfield. Jane attended Westfield High School, class of 1941, and went on to Wellesley College majoring in Economics. She married three times and had a long-term companion. Her first love, Thorney Gillett of Southwick, Massachusetts, was a pilot who died over Germany 1944. She married Thomas Wolcott of Westfield (Wyben, brother of David Wolcott of Montgomery) in 1946, and they moved to Panama where they had an import/export business. After a divorce, she married Walter Lewis Goodall Mace, a British citizen working with Royal Dutch Shell in Caracas, Venezuela, where the family lived until 1958. Moves to Indonesia, England, Connecticut, and Texas followed. Wacco, as he was known, died in 1997 in Houston. In 2003 Jane moved to Florida to be with Allen Bibby, a family friend from Venezuela days who had lost his wife. In 2006 the couple moved to the retirement community of Sandhill Cove in Palm City, where he passed away in 2007. Born in the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, she has seen 17 presidents.
Jane’s ancestors include most of the original settlers of Westfield. Jane’s father, “Chick” Ely, was known in town as the people’s lawyer. He also served on numerous city boards and commissions, and ran for the office of Mayor in the 1930’s. He served as the head of the Westfield Selective Service Commission during World War II. He was the head of the Red Cross for many years. One of the most memorable of Jane’s experiences was during the Great Flood of 1938, when she rode shotgun on a firetruck to rescue families from homes by the river, taking many of them to their house on Western Avenue for food and a dry place to sleep.
Jane’s life was focused on raising, nurturing, and supporting her family. Always a traveler, adventurer, and passionate learner, she visited at least 100 countries. Intelligent, engaging in manner and always sharing her smile, she was educated, social, a Christian, and a lifelong Democrat. Kind and caring, she has been one of those people who make the earth a better place. Jane had a special talent for always being a sunny, steady, reliable, confident person who showed her love and caring with no reservations. Whether meeting a head of state or a refugee, her demeanor said, “We can be friends.” Her equanimity and inner strength kept those around her looking forward whenever times got hard.
Baptized at the Church of the Atonement in Westfield, she was a committed Episcopalian, active in all aspects of her spiritual life, from the vestry and Altar Guild to being a server and reader. She served as a delegate to the national convention several times. In each home, Jane always played a key part in creating the spirit of her community. She always had a keen sense of people and events local, national, and international. She remained socially conscious and engaged until she passed.
Jane is survived by her daughter Jennifer Wolcott of Vancouver, WA, her son Charley Mace of Golden, Colorado, and her daughter Trish Mace of Coos Bay, Oregon. She has eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, with one more expected soon.
May she rest in the Peace and Grace of the Lord in His Heavenly Kingdom.