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Jane A. Berquist

October 10, 1936 – January 30, 2024

Rev. Jane A. Berquist – At 12:24 a.m. on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, the Rev. Jane Ann Berquist—Mom, Ahma, Granny, and Ma—left her body in a comfy bed at Beaumont Hospital and willed her soul to walk into eternity. Walking was her favorite mode of transportation—she walked for miles every day with God–and this final walk would have been filled with a quiet joy and, as she often said, the peace that passes understanding.

Mom was born on October 10, 1936, in Gaylord, Michigan, the third child of Marjorie Berry Glidden and Arthur W. Glidden. When her mother died when she was four, she was so proud of all the people who came to see her Mommy at the funeral. When she was six, she suggested to her Daddy that he marry Lorna Foster, because the family had so much fun singing harmonies together in the car under Lorna’s direction. When her baby brother Jimmy was born, she promptly gave him Chicken Pox, a transgression for which he has long since forgiven her. She loved to play with her older brother and sister, Mary Lynn and Frank, giving “chinnies” to their mother when she made them mad, and throwing apples at the garage wall while crying, “Dearie Me Shapps Apples.” They also loved riding the bicycles of a generous neighbor, taking piano lessons, and hanging out with their Uncle Steve. Jane could turn a mean cartwheel long into adulthood. She paid for her own braces on her teeth and her own tuition for college, Central Michigan University, from which she graduated with a B.A. in teaching.

In the summers, she worked at the Waubon Inn on Lake Huron in Oscoda, Michigan. Across the lake was YMCA Camp Nissokone, where a young U of M dental student called “Berky” was the Waterfront Director. He and his buddy Cuffer liked to eat at the Waubon on their days off and find waitresses to date, and one year, they found Jane and her roommate, Judy. Both couples married for their lifetimes. Their first date was sailing, and Jane was a bit seasick and frightened, for she could not swim. Nevertheless, they dated all summer, and when he went back to Ann Arbor and she to Mount Pleasant, he called her on the phone and said, “Hello, Jane, this is George.” “George who?” she responded. She only knew him as Berky.

George brought Jane to dinner at his parents’ house, “not as anyone permanent, but just so you meet the kind of girl I date.” Jane always said it was a good thing she was already in love with George, because she would have married him just to get Eleanore and Bob as parents-in-law. Eleanore served coffee in a special yellow tea cup Jane loved, and from then on, she made sure Jane received that cup at every meal.

They were married by candlelight on June 10, 1960, and were just as in love in their last days as they were in the first. While they were in Fort Dix serving in the United States Army, Jane read the entire collection of Shakespeare plays and chased the family beagle through the woods and neighborhood. On July 1, 1961, their most dramatic and antagonizing child, Jill, was born. When they moved back to Michigan, their sensible, rational, peaceful, and much younger child, Lynnie, was born on October 23, many years later. Lynnie is quite a bit younger than Jill and actually still quite a spring chicken. Jane called George to come home that day not too long ago because she was in labor, but told him not to break any speed limits, so he stopped to play a round of golf and have lunch. Her water broke at home while Jill threw cookie dough all over the house walls.

The family of four loved and laughed fiercely. They enjoyed their parakeets and Norwegian Elkhounds, going to “La La Land” at the dinner table, sailing, swimming, water and snow skiing, going up North, daiquiri club with their friends at Northville Commons, dinners and celebrations with their brothers-and-sisters-in-law, and opening and closing the church doors for every event. They were active in the Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church of Detroit, where they made lifelong friends, and in United Methodist Churches across the Conference. Jane had most of the A. A. Milne poetry canon memorized, and recited the poems of Christopher Robin and a large repertoire of silly children’s songs to her daughters and grandchildren on car rides and while they were in the bathtub. She could quote and sing these to her dying day. Jane and George were instrumental in their ministry with the youth at Northville First United Methodist Church, where they began Youth Club and bought personal vans to transport kids to camps and ski trips. Hundreds of youth called them “Ma” and “Boomer” over the years. Jane did the research and planned the lessons, and George got all the credit for the fun. Jane was the world’s best volunteer in the public schools and churches, until her oldest daughter took her by the hand one day and helped her register at Madonna College, where she studied gerontology and heard her call to professional ministry. She studied by correspondence at Garret-Evangelical and UMTSO seminaries until she earned her diaconate in ministry, and later, was the first diaconate to be ordained a permanent deacon in the old Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church. She served the following UMC’s: Northville First, Ferndale, Royal Oak First, and Nardin Park. She also served on the Board of Ordained Ministry. In retirement, she and George joined the First United Methodist Church of Troy, where they had the blessing of sitting next to her brother Frank and his wife Karen every Sunday. The friends she made among the clergy and parishioners of the Detroit Conference have loved and lifted her in laughter and light as she continued to grow in faith.

Jane was also a strong advocate for social justice and the advancement of women, especially for her daughters and granddaughters. Her absolute love and salvation in childhood, after her mother died, was her Gramma Glidden, whose steady love and care showed her the feminine side of God’s love. She always said that church nursery workers are the first images of God babies see at church. Jane kept that image and love for women and their communities all her life. She read scripture with the interests of our foremothers in faith in mind. Her preaching was feminine, graceful, and powerful. In 1979, she started a feminist movement in her own home against the requirement to bake 2 dozen kinds of cookies between Thanksgiving and Christmas, although she did keep up the meatball tradition. She insisted on owning one of the world’s first microwave ovens, and when George disobeyed her by purposely blowing up an egg and a marshmallow in it, she showed him where the cleaning fluids were kept. When George once complained that she never matched his socks, she led him into the laundry room and showed him how to turn on the washer and dryer, which she never turned on for him again. She also offered him a black sharpie marker for his ankles on days he forgot to do his laundry.

In her retirement, Jane filled many pulpits, and was known around the conference as her husband’s favorite preacher. She had a careful, flawless, distinct way of reading scripture that brought it to life, and her Children’s Moments and Vacation Bible Schools set the standard for graceful inquisitiveness. She led scores of persons to deeper relationships with God and Scripture by teaching Disciple Bible Study Classes. Her own children and grandchildren each considered her their best friend. They baked cookies and bunny pancakes, went ice-skating and to the Holocaust Museum, made apple sauce from apples they had picked in Michigan orchards, and piled on the couch every year to see if they could all still fit. Jane never said a swear word in her life until her grandchildren, one night during a card game, taught her the vocabulary their college tuition was supporting. She laughed when granddaughter Melissa got stuck up in trees when she was little and was immensely proud of her career when she grew to a beautiful adult. Joseph was her fix-it angel, a great door man, the smartest human ever with turning on a tv, and the best acolyte any church had ever trained. Several years ago, she helped Ryan Brady pull off not just a surprise engagement, but an immediate surprise wedding for him and her oldest grandchild, Joy, in the Troy sanctuary on Christmas Eve. Last spring, she spent several months in Florida, where four generations of J girls—Jane, Jill, Joy, and Janey—lived together in a time of treasure and toys. She reached a goal we had all thought unattainable—travelling to Atlanta to see her youngest grandchild, Gracie-Grace, play Rosalind in As You Like It with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company. She remembered the play from reading it all those years ago and was amazed at Gracie’s art. When her great granddaughter and namesake, Janey, was born, she was overjoyed by both the child and her name. When asked if she wanted to be called Great-Ahma, she replied that simply “Great” would do. She loved every one of her nieces and nephews and adored their children. Her sons-in-law Lynn and Steve were loved beyond measure and often enjoyed her alliance in the marital squabbles of her daughters.

Jane felt blessed and loved during her three cancers and George’s many surgeries, and she was fascinated by how medical professionals—from surgeons to housekeepers–were answering their calls to do God’s work. Her youngest daughter, Lynnie, took loving care of her for four years, through two cancers, a multitude of health complications, her grief over the loss of Daddy, and her daily living.

Jane was not at all ready to walk into eternity. She wanted to live and be with her family. But she also told us, repeatedly, that she had the peace that passes understanding, and that her biggest concern was that we would be okay without her. We all said we would be, which is one of the only times any of us recall lying to her. We will not be okay without her, but we do have peace.

Jane is ushered into eternity by her parents and parents-in-law, her brother Frank and his wife Karen and niece Carla, her brother-in-law John and niece Karen Lynn, her sister-in-law Joann, and, if he doesn’t stop for lunch and a quick cast of his fly line, her husband, George. She is survived by her sister Mary Lynn and brother Jim (Connie), her brother-in-law Paul, her daughters Jill (Lynn) and Lynne (Steve), her grandchildren, Joy (Ryan), Gracie, Melissa, and Joseph (Susan), a great-granddaughter, Jane Ella, and a host of nieces, nephews, greats, and beautiful friends.

A Celebration of Jane’s life will take place on February 14th at First United Methodist Church of Troy with the Reverend Myra Moreland officiating. Yes, that is Ash Wednesday and Valentine’ Day. What better day to celebrate love, remember our mortality, and express our belief in resurrection and hope eternal?

Arrangements are as follows, at First United Methodist Church of Troy, Michigan.

Wednesday, February 14th
3:00 Visitation
4:00 Service of Celebration
5:00 Dinner and Continued Visitation

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either First United Methodist Church of Troy, Michigan or Lake Jackson United Methodist Church of Tallahassee, Florida, that ministry may continue for our good God in her name.

First United Methodist Church of Troy, 6363 Livernois, Troy, MI 48098
Lake Jackson United Methodist Church, 4423 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32303
Memories and condolences can be shared by clicking on this link.

*Berquist, Jane A. (George) – [(RD) CE CRT Assoc. CE 1993; CON 1994; DFM 1997; RD 2006] Royal Oak: First 1994; Farmington Hills: Nardin Park (deacon) 1995; Retired 2006.

Last Updated on February 14, 2024

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