Jayne Blodgett Murray of Mayville, Wisconsin who boasted of beating JFK in Chinese checkers passed away on January 7, 2020. She was 93 years young.
America has lost a great patriot.
Jayne Adelaide Blodgett was born October 23, 1926 in Fond du Lac, WI, the second child of William Morris Blodgett and Adelaide Blodgett (nee Docter). She was much like her mother whom she adored.
In the third grade Jayne was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and as a result was often confined to bedrest while her playmates were running and playing on bright sunny days. Others may have viewed this as unfair, but Jayne said of her childhood, “I was lucky.”
Lucky, she meant, because of the books she read while cooped up in her room; books like The Bobsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Black Beauty and The Wind in the Willows. Books opened to Jayne the larger world of imagination and possibilities. She and her brother Billy, also homebound with the disease, capitalized on their plight by telling each other elaborate tales of travel and adventure. The writings of Longfellow, Tennyson, Frost and others combined with encouragement (but never pity) from her parents and civic-minded family, stirred her imagination and inspired her to a lifetime of service to her country.
At a very tender age, the die was cast.
Jayne was proud of her ancestry, and for good reason. Her maternal grandfather was Christian William (C.W.) Docter (1868 – 1946), a prominent entrepreneur who arrived in Mayville in 1889 with only three cents in his pocket yet went on to operate a successful photography studio, novelty store and the Modjeska (later called the May) Theater. On her father’s side the first Blodgetts arrived in 1637 from England. Jayne’s great-great-grandfather Nathan Blodgett proudly fought in the American Revolution.
Jayne excelled in school. She had a natural talent for drawing and painting for which she was quick to credit her grandmother Kate, a gifted teacher, artist and poet. Upon graduating high school in 1944, Jayne studied art for two years at UW-Madison, joining the Chi Omega sorority and Sigma Lambda art society.
In 1947 a fortuitous trip to California would set her life on a new and exciting course. On a train called the Santa Fe Chief Jayne was discovered by a Hollywood agent who prompted her into a successful modeling career with the Harry Conover Agency in New York City, creating no small buzz back in Mayville. It was during this time that Jayne became best friends with pioneering war reporter, Gloria Emerson.
A small town girl in the Big Apple, Jayne had quite the time fending off several would-be suitors, including a young congressman by the name of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who she would date for over a year. JFK invited Jayne to his wedding and inauguration, and he would later receive Jayne and her husband into the oval office for a visit.
The ultimate winner of Jayne’s affections and her hand in marriage was handsome insurance broker and New York socialite James Gordon Murray. They married March 4, 1950; their four-month European honeymoon a grand adventure in itself. They settled in Bedford, NY, had three children and Jayne was very involved in their education. In this idyllic setting Jayne became involved with the Daughters of the American Revolution and politics at every level, such as campaigning for Thomas Dewey and Barry Goldwater. In 1951 Jayne was admitted into the exclusive New York Social Registry. Jayne and James would ultimately divorce in 1973.
After 40 years in New York state, during which time she was a successful real estate agent, Jayne returned to her beloved Mayville where she operated the River’s Bend Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast with a decidedly early-American motif. Never truly retired, Jayne continued to be active in local and state politics.
A lifelong reader, Jayne was strongly influenced by “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. These books helped develop her Libertarian leanings.
A powerful lyric poem titled “Renascence” by Edna St. Vincent Millay was a favorite of Jayne’s. A brief excerpt:
O God, I cried, no dark disguise
Can e’er hereafter hide from me
Thy radiant identity!
Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!
Jayne is survived by her children: Jaynie Blodgett Murray (Juneau, WI), James Gordon Murray (Asheville, NC); grandchildren Emily (Thomas) Poulton, Sarah Murray, and Abigail (Joseph) Adams; great-granddaughter Maisie Joy Poulton close friend Alan Johnson of Coer d’Alene, ID, and many other family and friends. Jayne was preceded in death by her parents, her dear brother Billy and her beloved dog Daisy.
Today the lights that shine on the cupola of the White Limestone School Museum bear witness to the generosity and love of country of Mayville’s favorite daughter. Jayne’s amazing life is described in her own book, “The River’s Bend; Memoirs of Mayville, Modeling and JFK’s Blue Jeans.”
A funeral service for Jayne will take place on Friday, January 10 at 7 p.m. at the Koepsell Funeral Home in Mayville with the Rev. David Koch officiating. A visitation will take place on Friday. January 10 from 4-7 p.m. at the funeral home in Mayville. Burial will take place at Graceland Cemetery in Mayville.
In lieu of flowers Jayne has requested that everyone read the book, The Law by Frederic Bastiat and/or donate to the Dodge County, WI Humane Society.
Written by Tracy Heron with Jayne Murray ~ 1/7/20
Special thanks to Jayne’s special caregivers- Trish, Leah, Mary, and Rachel and the doctors, nurses, and staff at AngelsGrace Hospice In Oconomowoc for all of their love, support, and care shown to Jayne and her family. Lastly, thank you to the many, many, friends that Jayne has made over the years in Mayville for their friendship and care.
Koepsell Funeral Home In Mayville is serving the family. For online condolences and other information please visit www.KoepsellFH.com
I, Jayne Blodgett Murray, approve this obituary for publication upon my passing. I would like it printed in the Dodge County Pionier, Wisconsin State Journal, Milwaukee Journal, New York Times and any other newspapers deemed appropriate by my family and friends.