Beloved member (Cora) Jane Walters Peers died April 19, 2021 in Encinitas California at the age of 97.
Jane was born June 15, 1923 to Agnes Marie Rose Kost Walters and Frederick Robert Walters. Her father was a birthright Quaker, as was Jane. Jane’s family lived in a poor section of Philadelphia where her father, a Purple Heart medal recipient who had been gassed in the trenches in Flanders during World War l, worked maintaining the tenements, later serving in the Merchant Marines during World War ll.
Jane’s brother, Frederick, who was sickly, died the day before she was born, and their mother died six weeks after Jane’s birth. Jane was then sent to the country and cared for by a foster mother whom she called Mother Summers. Jane was a very frail infant and it was feared she would not live. She was not able to digest milk and Mother Summers brought her back to health with pureed potatoes.
At the age of six Jane was sent back to Philadelphia to attend Friends Central School on a scholarship. Jane did not understand why she was being sent away from Mother Summers’ home and later said she felt rejected. Her father coached her on how to walk safely through her new neighborhood to get to school. One day Jane told her father that she was never scared because a nice boy always silently walked with her. Her father told her that he watched her walk and that she had always been alone, but added that she once had a brother who died. She also talked about a lovely lady who sometimes watched her walk to school and smiled at her from across the street. When her father asked her to describe the woman, her description fit her mother. Then her father showed her a picture of her mother which he had been too sad to show Jane before. These two experiences were very instrumental in forming Jane’s spiritual and mystical beliefs. She always said that there was more to life than what we see and that she was not afraid of death.
After high school Jane went to Swarthmore College on a scholarship but dropped out because of the war and worked as a caller at Penn Central Station in Philadelphia.
In 1945 she had a short marriage with Otto Schablinski. During World War ll they lived on a houseboat in Tampa, Florida, and Otto was often away in the Merchant Marines. Their daughter Melody Joan was born January 29, 1946. Jane thereafter married Gil Peers and had a second daughter, Mary Jane, who was born December 26, 1953. Gil moved the family out to the Mojave desert where he worked on experimental aircraft. While there, Jane taught grades one through six at a one room schoolhouse. The family moved often for several years. Jane took care of several elderly relatives at the end of their lives including her father.
Once the family settled in Encinitas Jane was able to finish her Bachelors at San Diego State University and she obtained a Masters in Counseling from United States International University. She also worked on a doctoral degree but was not able to finish for financial reasons. Jane taught Women’s Studies at Mira Costa Community College for many years.
Jane raised her daughters in the Episcopalian faith because she assumed Quakers were few and far between on the West Coast, and Episcopalian ministers were frequent guests at her home in the 1960s.
Her daughter Mary Jane accidentally discovered the Friends Meetinghouse on Eads Avenue in La Jolla on her way to an Episcopalian event at St. James in 1970 and was very excited to tell her mother that she had located Quakers nearby. Jane went to meeting the next week and attended almost every week thereafter for the rest of her life. She was intimately involved with La Jolla Monthly Meeting for more than 40 years. She served two terms as La Jolla Monthly Meeting clerk and was presiding clerk of Pacific Yearly Meeting. She faithfully and meticulously served on countless committees in La Jolla, Southern California Quarterly Meeting and Pacific Yearly Meeting including Ministry and Oversight, Adult Religious Education and Scholarship Committee. She served as representative to Intermountain Yearly Meeting, participated in demonstrations at the nuclear bomb sites in Nevada, traveled to Mexico City on behalf of PYM to consult with and aid Mexico City Friends Meeting and was a beloved liaison with Casa de los Amigos there.
She wrote articles for Friends Bulletin, Western Friend and Friends Journal, co-edited the 1984 Pacific Yearly Meeting’s edition of Faith and Practice on their revision committee and was instrumental in seeing that the Spanish edition, Fe y Practica, was produced.
Her years of faithful service on Children’s Religious Education was her great joy, as were the children of Meeting, and generations of young friends and their parents remember her First Day School classes with love and great respect.
She fully committed herself to Friends, many of whom turned to her for her wisdom, inspiration, friendship, guidance, counsel and support. During her first term as Monthly Meeting clerk at La Jolla Meeting she took the time to meet with over 70 members individually in their homes, which she felt was an important part of her pastoral care as a servant of the Meeting.
Jane’s wide-ranging interests included poetry, philosophy, theology, gardening, women’s issues, racial and social justice, science fiction and literature of all kinds. She loved to keep her bird feeders well stocked and especially enjoyed seeing the hummingbirds from her dining room window.
She was unfailingly honest, intellectually curious, loved long deep conversations and cultivated her friendships with great love and faithfulness. She made her little blue cottage and flower-filled garden a beautiful sanctuary where friends could enjoy her courteous and generous hospitality. For many years Friends gathered at her home for deep worship-sharing every two weeks.
One of Jane’s greatest skills was her ability to make each person with whom she interacted feel uniquely cherished, respected, heard, and loved.
Although she consciously resisted unduly influencing meetings for business, friends always turned to look to her for quiet wisdom, compassion and guidance. Her thoughtful messages in Meeting were often reassuring, luminous and wise. She was often the first person that visitors would meet as they came to worship and her warm and gracious welcome was frequently the reason people returned.
She was committed to integrity, simplicity and honesty and the Friend’s way of life, had a wealth of information about Friends’ customs, history and practices, and was even willing to use plain speech on occasion for friends who wished to hear the old Quaker forms of address.
Jane’s daughter Mary Jane Peers lived with her during her last 21 years to their mutual benefit. She was also in close touch with her daughter Melody Peers McCormack in New Mexico. Jane visited Melody and her husband Dave every year and they also came to Encinitas at least twice a year to help Jane with the upkeep of her home. Jane was close to Melody’s twins Marlon (Marlo) and Sara and brought her grandchildren to Quaker gatherings. Jane’s great granddaughter Janie, Marlon’s daughter, lives in China.
Jane’s daughter Melody recalled that for years in Encinitas, Jane would take the family dog out for a walk late at night for a quiet hour or two. They would walk through canyons, neighborhoods and the beaches in the frequent mist and fog. Jane said she saw this as an important spiritual time to think and come to clarity about her relationship to her family, the world, and God and to reconnect with nature. She felt that seeking the good is an act of will and that we should not let our emotions cloud that effort.
Jane truly believed that there is that of God in everyone and everything and that we can connect with each other through this divine center. She was a woman of deep and abiding faith.
As Jane said at the memorial of an old friend, “She was quite simply a good Quaker woman. And that is the highest praise I can give.“