Jane Anne Kurata

April 17, 1949 - March 28, 2023


Jane Kurata took her last dance and final bow before quietly exiting the stage of life on March 28, 2023. She had been tangoing with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia for the previous six years. Most of that time she had lived with her husband Doug, with assistance from family, friends, and caregivers. In the final seven months of her life, she received care at San Juan Villa in Port Townsend, Washington. Even though her end was anticipated, the suddenness of her finale caught the family off guard.

Jane was born on April 17, 1949 in Lawrence, Kansas to Melvin and Neva Meinke. She was their first child and spent her early childhood in nearby DeSoto.

Jane enjoyed a charmed life in this quiet little “Mayberry” town as a firstborn grandchild endowed with “Shirley Temple” cuteness. Her grandparents (Archie and Maxine) lived a few doors away and showered her with affection when her parents worked. Her mother sewed adorable outfits which Jane happily wore to school and social events. She excelled in school, usually top of her class. Even when younger brother Kurt arrived, she remained the special one, according to stepbrother Stan.

When Jane was in junior high school, her family moved to Lawrence where her father owned a small restaurant. In the bigger school district, Jane continued to shine. Her future husband Doug met her in a high school chemistry class and remembers her outscoring him in a big exam and winning the prize of a silver electroplated nail.

After graduating from Lawrence High School in 1967, she went up the hill to attend the University of Kansas. She struggled during her freshman year when her mother took ill and died several months later. With emotional support from her Aunt Carol McNary and roommate Karen Lenzen, Jane graduated on schedule in 1971 with a BA in biology. Within weeks, she “got out of Dodge” and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jane waitressed initially while living with a group of KU grads in Oakland. Eventually, she moved to San Francisco where she got a job in an arts supply store. She met another employee there, Suzanne Shiff, who became a lifelong friend.

After not seeing each other since high school, Jane reacquainted herself with Doug Kurata in 1973 when they ran into each other at a friends’ New Year’s Eve party in Lawrence. Both were visiting family during the holiday break, Jane from work and Doug from medical school. There were sparks in that chance meeting, but it took another year, under similar circumstances, for their romance to catch fire.

Jane visited Doug in Palo Alto during the spring of 1975. He persuaded her to move down the
peninsula, and she found a small cottage in Menlo Park. She worked in a local arts supply store and studied nursing prerequisites while Doug completed his medical degree at Stanford. They married days after Doug’s graduation in 1977, and then they headed off together to the University of Minnesota where Jane would attend nursing school, and Doug his family practice residency.

Jane earned her BSN in the winter of 1980. She worked as a staff nurse in St. Paul’s United Hospital until Doug completed his training. She made the executive decision that they would move to a more temperate climate after Doug finished school. They took a trip to the Pacific Northwest that spring of 1980, shortly after Mount St. Helens had erupted. They spent six weeks visiting small rural hospitals and searching for a suitable town where they could relocate. They were almost done when they rolled into Port Townsend.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and they were planning to catch a ferry and return to a town in eastern Washington. They enjoyed the picturesque view of Port Townsend from the hospital campus. They met encouraging staff and made the right connections. Like many newcomers, they came under the spell of the “City of Dreams.” Before they left, they were both assured of employment and agreed to
return within a year.

Back in Minnesota, Jane resumed work as a hospital nurse while Doug finished his residency. They departed the Twin Cities that fall just before a major winter storm hit. They set off for a six-month trek to Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa, before returning to Port Townsend.

They arrived in April 1981 and soon purchased a Victorian home. Jane worked as a staff nurse for
Jefferson General Hospital while Doug began medical practice with Port Townsend Family
Physicians. They lived uptown for five years before moving out to Discovery Bay.

Within the first year, their first child, Marika, was born, and within the second year, Alex arrived. Jane worked part-time until their third child, Drew, came, after which she stayed at home until all three children were enrolled in school.

Jane resumed part-time nursing positions in the local hospital when the kids were in school.
Eventually she joined the Jefferson County Public Health Department. She worked primarily in the county immunization program and in the travel clinic. Her favorite job was helping students and travelers prepare for their overseas adventures with preventative immunizations and medicine. She was proud of her service in public health, enjoyed her work relationships, and stayed there for 15 years before retiring in 2014.

Jane’s greatest joy in life was being a mother. She appreciated raising her children in Port Townsend, helping in their classrooms, driving the soccer van, hosting birthday parties, and crafting creative costumes. She did this while holding down a part-time job, running the family household, and keeping everyone organized. She was a master multi-tasker, with an organized daily planner, and did it all with good cheer. She loved living on Discovery Bay, a safe haven for her kids to play and explore the natural world.

As her kids matured into young adults, she maintained a positive, engaging attitude with an open heart. On weekends, she would wait up or get out of bed to greet them when they wandered in after midnight. She listened with a receptive ear when the kids were willing to talk. She learned to incorporate Love & Logic techniques and kept tabs on the kids by sharing an underground network with like-minded moms.

Those fortunate enough to have known Jane will remember her sunny disposition, her wry sense of humor, and quick intellect. She liked to read the Sunday newspaper funnies first, then tackle the crossword puzzle. For book group, she usually read the entire volume but preferred the social hour over the book review. She enjoyed 5 o’clock rounds with colleagues after work. She was a perennial trooper in Joan O’Meara’s adult tap dancing studio. Jane was fun to be around, playful, thoughtful, and gracious.

She was well versed in the kitchen and created a repertoire of tasty recipes, especially desserts. Many of her favorite recipes are preserved in a family cookbook subtitled “A collection of recipes from the kitchen of Mama-san Jane.”

She loved to travel and to learn about different cultures and cuisines. She and Doug explored parts of Central America, Europe, and southeast Asia. She liked to camp, canoe, hike, and bike, especially in national parks. She would visit Doug when he was in Alaska during locum tenens stints, but never wanted to permanently leave her beloved home on Discovery Bay.

Jane leaves behind some very dear local friends, aka the Tri-Fam, comprised of the McCarrons, the Nowaks, and the Kuratas. The three couples developed mutually supportive friendships in the early days when each began having families. Jane enjoyed being surrogate mom for the Nowak boys and the McCarron girls. The Tri-Fam celebrated many birthdays and holidays together, and the kids became bonded as extended family/surrogate siblings. When the men went hunting, the women went on a ladies’ vacation together.

Jane is preceded in death by her parents, Melvin and Neva Meinke, and stepmother Berniece
Wilkins. She is survived by her husband Doug, Port Townsend; daughter Marika Montgomery
(Jacob), Port Townsend; and sons Alex Kurata (Ariel MacMillan), Poulsbo, and Drew Kurata, Port Townsend. She is also survived by brother Kurt Meinke (Susie), Texas; stepsister Paula Henderson, Texas; and stepbrother Stan Wilkins (Susan), Kansas. She leaves three precious grandchildren: Maxwell, Bennett, and Maisie.

The family acknowledges the tender care provided by Drs. Molly Hong and Nancy Isenberg, home health aides Divina Pata, Jovy Russ, and Maile Mamea, and the staff at San Juan Villa. Special appreciation goes to dear friends Lynn Nowak, Noreen McCarron, and Suzanne Shiff who remained true-blue and loyal until the end.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Jane’s ashes will be spread in Discovery Bay in front of the family home. She dances with the stars now.

“When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced.
You lived your life in such a way that when you died,
the world cried, and you rejoiced.”