Jane Claire Cotnoir of South Portland died at home on Thursday, January 3, after a two-decade battle with breast cancer. The last vigil was kept by her son, her sister, her cats, and a dear friend.
Jane was born in New York City on January 13, 1948, the daughter of Emmanuel and Gertrude (Golden) Weinerman. She spent her early years there, attending Hunter College High School and then New York's City College, where she majored in English. She was a vibrant and adventurous child and teenager, a lover of literature and drama, and she spent several young-adult summers at the Ogunquit Playhouse. She received a Masters degree in English from Clark University before marrying and moving to Denver, where her husband, who was in the military, was stationed. She worked towards a doctorate on Faulkner at the university there, but relinquished that project when she and her husband were moved back east, to the Washington, DC area.
For five years Jane taught freshman English at George Washington University, and then she began working as an editor for the International City/County Management Association (an educational organization for professionals in local government), writing and editing documents for the organization and its members. Her connection with ICMA would endure for the rest of her life. She also became a valued freelance consultant and editor to academics and other scholarly writers.
In 1988 her son Aaron Gold was born. Jane and her husband divorced. For a while after that she remained in Virginia, where her breast cancer was first diagnosed and where she later remarried. The new family then moved to Binghamton, New York. Jane worked from home for ICMA and happily watched Aaron thrive in an atmosphere much more relaxed than that of the nation's capital.
When her second marriage ended, she moved once more—this time to Portland, a city that she came to love. Jane had a great gift for friendship, and Portland gave her both rich opportunities to make new friends and time to spend with beloved old ones. About 20 years after the initial diagnosis, her cancer recurred. With the help of the staff at Mercy Hospital in Portland she held it at bay for several more years, during which time she continued to travel, to explore, and to tackle life with her usual curiosity and zest. Her delight in puzzles, word and jigsaw, reached new heights. But when the illness finally began to get the better of her, she gratefully let herself absorb the care of the many people who loved her. When the end came, it came quickly and without pain. The years in Portland may have been the happiest time in her life.
Jane was an adventurous and courageous person, feisty, tough, and compassionate. She loved the world and the animals with whom we share it. She shared her own home with cats, and fought as fiercely for their well-being as she did for her own. She worked towards hunger relief, and was also a passionate supporter of protections for endangered wildlife.
An informal memorial gathering will be held in the spring.
Donations in Jane's memory may be made to: Feeding America, Big Cat Rescue, Defenders of Wildlife, the World Wildlife Fund, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, or the Environmental Defense Fund. She would have greatly appreciated a contribution to any.