Jane Walsh Johnson Flucker, born September 29, 1931 and raised in the small, segregated, conservative, west Tennessee city of Jackson, died on October 29, 2020 from the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. With the blessing of her parents Marian and Seale Johnson she left the South behind, graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA in 1953 and then moved to Boston in begin a career in publishing. This was cut short when she met and married Ronald Flucker, a recent graduate of Yale and a navy officer.
She started the family with a son Johnson in 1957 and a daughter Sarah in 1958. In 1963 having volunteered at the Home for Crippled Children and been exposed to the women’s movement Jane decided to pursue a teaching career and earned a master’s degree in English Literature from The Carnegie Institute of Technology, and a public school teacher’s certificate in 1968. Immediately thereafter, having moved to Princeton, NJ, she began teaching English in the public high school. Returning to Pittsburgh (O’Hara Township) in 1972 she tried to continue her teaching career. However because the employment practices of the local school board - hire the least qualified because they are the lowest paid - her plan was thwarted. (See Flucker vs Fox Chapel a defining case in public school employment practices.) Consequently she took positions teaching composition/creative writing at The University of Pittsburgh and Community College of Allegheny County until 1980 when she was hired by Westinghouse Electric as a writer/editor in the nuclear power division. That position was eliminated as a result of the Chernobyl meltdown of 1986 and turn down in the nuclear power industry.
In 1987, Jane started another career as a writer/researcher for a boutique business evaluation/accounting firm, from which position she retired in 1996. At this point she began what she considered her most rewarding position, that of a Volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children whose care is the responsibility of the Allegheny County Family Courts. In a short biography written for her 50th Smith Reunion book, she wrote, “I have for ten years been assigned to represent a family of ten children who have shown more courage in their brief lives than I could show in a lifetime.” With her help all of these children were successfully placed in appropriate adoptive or foster homes. Jane was a member of the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art for over 25 years, serving on various activity committees, particularly the Christmas tree decoration committee.
Jane was particularly happy in an environment based on conversation, knitting and needlepoint afternoons, and informal lunch gatherings. She was highly respected for her knowledge; literature, western history and biography, particularly in the age of Georgian England, where it was encyclopedic. She particularly enjoyed Georgette Heyer’s many novels set in Regency London. She was admired as a woman of grace, good taste, and understanding who enhanced the enjoyment of any group she was with. With her husband she accumulated a serious collection of 18th century English satirical prints. Jane also enjoyed travel, Europe (self planned), Canadian theater and Sante Fe.
Highpoints were watching the 1987 (Glasnost) May Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square, and a full moon rising over the Bosphorus on the eve of the Ides of March, in 2000. She is survived by her husband of over 66 years, Ronald, her son Johnson and daughter-in-law Jane Billington, their children Timothy and Lucy, her daughter Sarah Eklund and her daughter Molly. Her sister Charlton “Timmy” Johnson Smith of Jackson predeceased her. Although white, she always considered herself to be another migrant in the “Great Black Migration” from the South. She will be missed. Memorial gifts to the public library of your choice will be appreciated.
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