Jane Helen (Weidler) Conlon, 81, of South Bend, transitioned peacefully on June 12th at the Raclin House - Center for Hospice Care in the loving presence of family, music, and the skilled care of the hospice team. She fought courageous battles with cancer and dementia, neither of which could stop her strong, loving, and courageous spirit. Beloved daughter of Carl Sr. and Mary Margaret Stowell Weidler, close sister of Cathryn Ann Weidler, and former wife of Kevin Conlon, all preceded her in death. Survived by three loving sons, Brendan (Tracy) Conlon, Patrick (Carri) Conlon, and Sean Conlon, dear siblings Carl Jr. (Jack) and Jinny Weidler, beloved grandson Devin Conlon, and many treasured cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
Born October 10th 1939, Jane cheerfully grew up in South Bend where she attended John Adams High School and St. Mary's College. She enjoyed golf outings, summer camp, and countless family road trip adventures. Steadfast Studebakers took the freewheeling Weidlers across America and its vistas, from the Big Apple to Disneyland, where they were some of the first visitors through the gate.
A stint volunteering for the successful campaigns of John F. Kennedy and John Brademas led to a congressional staffing job for Brademas in Washington D.C. in 1961. It was in D.C. where Jane witnessed Martin Luther King Jr. give his historic "I have Dream" speech, attended jet set D.C. functions including a birthday party for JFK, and helped Jacqueline Kennedy respond to countless condolence letters following her husband's death. In D.C. Jane met her husband and father of her sons, Kevin Conlon, then working as a Capitol Hill Police Officer. A long dreamed of family life began shortly after with the arrival of sons Brendan and Patrick. A move to Milwaukee and a third son Sean followed in the early 1970's.
Jane was a force of nature when it came to home cooking, desserts, Christmas, homework help, and adventurous outings. The family enjoyed road trips, camping, fishing, hunting, Brewer's games, movies, and music at Milwaukee's Summerfest. Jane put her love of children and learning to work in Milwaukee's public schools, and in one of the first public school computer labs. She and Kevin realized their dream of home ownership in Milwaukee's racially integrated Sherman Park neighborhood where the family stayed until the three sons graduated high school. Jane then helped Kevin run a small business in Southern Illinois for several years until an amicable divorce.
Jane returned to her beloved family home in South Bend in 1995 where she stayed until 2 days before her passing. She again worked in public schools, running before and after school programs while tirelessly working regular school day hours in-between. She continued to work through and after her first bout with cancer, going into remission after chemo and radiation therapies.
Her retirement years saw her supporting countless charity and political causes via her computer, enjoying arts, nature, and cinema outings with her son Sean, gardening, and spending quality time with her cherished grandson Devin and the rest of her family. She began suffering from dementia which worsened over many years before cancer aggressively returned after a decade. Neither dampened her spirits or endearing smile, and despite real challenges she remained a formidable player of Putt Putt, Bocce, Uno, and Connect Four. She made moments and people matter and taught a masterclass in courageous living and aging gracefully regardless of circumstance. She left a legacy of love and kindness that lives on in the hearts of all who knew her.
A time of Visitation for Jane’s family and friends will take place from 1 – 3 pm on Saturday, June 26, in Goethals & Wells Funeral Home, 503 W. 3rd Street, Mishawaka. A Memorial Service will follow the visitation at 3 pm.
Memorials are suggested to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or to Sherman Phoenix Project (shermanphoenix.org).
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