Same chair, same person, 63 years later.
Jane Trigère (aka Hanna) died on October 27 2018, after a long negotiation with ovarian cancer. She made us promise not to use the words “battle with cancer,” Because, as she explained, she has never been trained in combat and warrior skills. With such a metaphor she could only end up a loser, but as a “negotiator,” she thought she might have a chance.
She was born in the suburbs of New York City in 1948 to two dynamic people who unfortunately could not make a life together. Her father, Robert Sioma Trigère, was the founding partner of a fashion design house begun in 1942 with his sister Pauline. Her mother, Jane Ellis, became a Professor of English Literature in her fifties. From these two people Jane credits her love for language and literature, and her commitment to social action.
Jane Trigère has been many things: a costume and set designer, almost an architect, an art bookbinder, a calligrapher, a cobbler, an eyeglass frame designer, a reporter and editor, a museum director, a teacher, an embroiderer, a painter, a gallerista, and most recently a published author, but always — an artist.
The job and responsibility that she always took most seriously was parenting. She was known as Ima, Ima-Jane, and Omi.
Jane believed that every object and every activity was an opportunity to express aesthetic delight. Nothing we wear, build, or live with need be any less than an expression of our personal sensibilities and vision. Many have said that her home is a work of art that transports guests into another world.
Before coming to live in South Deerfield (in the Old Firehouse) in 1994, Jane lived in New York, Cambridge, and Jerusalem. But – as she used to say – it was her six years as a member of Kibbutz Kfar Giladi in Northern Israel that prepared her for life in the small village of Deerfield.
Synagogue membership was an important part of her spiritual and community life. She was very active at Congregation B’nai Israel since 1992, and then moved to the Jewish Community of Amherst in 2012.
She attended the French Lycée of New York, two years at Sarah Lawrence College, married young to the man who would become the father of her two daughters, and graduated from Boston Univ. School of Fine & Applied Arts in theatre design. She finished 3 years of studies in architecture, but abandoned that to study leather bookbinding. This she did for many years, founding the Israel Bibliophiles (an organization for the book arts) when she lived in Jerusalem.
Returning to the United States was the hardest move she ever made and, she noted wryly, as she had a US passport and spoke English… how impossibly hard it must be for immigrants.
Jane met Ken Schoen in 1991, and moved up to live with him in the Valley. She became the founding director of the Hatikvah Holocaust Education & Resource Center in 1997; although the Center no longer exists, it was a wonderful achievement. Jane noted that her background in theatre was critical to getting the job done. She had learned how to create something out of nearly nothing and all on a tight schedule.
On a similar note was Jane’s deep involvement in the creation of the Lander Grinspoon Academy: as a founding organizer, several years a Board member, and lastly, as a chair of the Building Committee.
Jane returned to study Art & Material Culture at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. She received her MA in 2005. Finding no jobs at the local museums she started creating art relating to her recent studies. She flourished and had several museum shows in New York and also at her synagogue in Amherst (See her art at janetrigere.com).
She and Ken founded the Jewish Historical Society of Western Massachusetts.
Her contributions to the town of Deerfield were in the restorations of cemeteries. As a Board member of the Deerfield Historical Commission, she initiated and got funding for this work. In 2014, she created the Deerfield Arts Bank Gallery. She was thrilled to help artists get their work into group shows and delighted in slightly quirky titles to encourage unexpected variety…. like “Chair Dreams” and “LandEscape.”
Her last project was creating the ad hoc Town Common Committee, to make sure that—besides the wonderful annual plantings—there was some official body to watch over the aesthetics and development of this historic center of town.
She is survived by her loving husband, Ken Schoen. Jane noted her sorrow at leaving their joint story so early and her regret at not being around to see the future journeys of her much loved children and stepchildren: Shatay (Matt Curtis) and Rachel Cassia, Seth and Rebecca (Matt Cohen), and, of course, her wonderful grandchildren, Emmet, Shunie, Skaya and Leah.
Jane had amazing capacity to make friends out of strangers… to mentor and find mentors for those in need. She will be missed and remembered by the many people whose lives she touched.
Her husband Ken wants to express deep gratitude to the staff at Cooley Dickinson Hospital and Hospice, the Massachusetts General Hospital and Cancer Connection and the community for all their kindness, dedication and support.
Donations in her memory can be sent to Cancer Connections (cancerconnection.org), Jewish Historical Society of Western Massachusetts (jhswm.org) or Brandeis Univ. Special Collections earmarked for the Trigère Family Papers.
There will be a memorial event at the Jewish Community of Amherst on November 29th, at 1PM.
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