Mary Jane was born in Columbus Ohio, June 13th, 1924, and grew up in St Louis where her father, whom she adored, was in charge of building and operating the City transit system. In 1941 she went off to Swarthmore College where she encountered Quakers and embraced their values, graduating in 1945. She chose to attend Washington University School of Medicine, graduating in 1949. She then went east to Columbia University for internship and residency and graduate research in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She was appointed an instructor in Medicine there from 1956-1960, then chose to go to the University of Vermont where she taught and practiced until 1977. In Vermont, she married widowed Quaker Tom Bassett in 1963. They were married for about 15 years, during which she was the active stepmother of John, Miriam, Margot, and Elizabeth, who adopted her as theirs, and she them as hers. She was eventually recruited away by the University of North Carolina medical school. She was a well-respected Professor doing extensive perinatal research and beloved for her prominent advocacy of women’s rights to choice in reproduction.
She had a friend and companion, Jayne Anne Ackerman, whom she met in Vermont; the two of them moved together for the rest of her life. When Mary Jane retired in 1990, they moved to Corvallis, Oregon. Mary Jane worked as a volunteer physician for many years here and was medical director for Linn County Planned Parenthood and did clinical volunteer work from 1992 to 1998. She joined the Corvallis Friends Meeting where she was a serious voice for peace, justice and the environment; she made visiting the sick and infirm a part of her weekly routine. She was an active participant in monthly meetings for business and social occasions. As she aged into her 90s, her soft-spoken counsel to Meeting folks was less frequent but treasured as it was always cheerful, wise and kind. Her living example spoke volumes. She died January 23rd, 2022.
Approved by Corvallis Friends Meeting