Jane Francina Rissler of Kabletown, W.Va., died February 21, 2023, from complications of metastatic breast cancer.
The daughter of the late Lewis Shaull Rissler and Kathleen Johnson Rissler, Jane was educated in local schools, graduating from Charles Town High School and Shepherd College (now University). She had a Doctor of Philosophy degree in agriculture from Cornell University.
After brief stints as a high school teacher in Jefferson County and a college professor at the University of Maryland, Jane worked nearly 30 years in Washington, D.C., on science and public policy issues related to sustainable agriculture at the Environmental Protection Agency, National Wildlife Federation, and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). She was one of the architects of U.S. policy to protect the environment from the risks of biotechnology in farming.
In 2011, after retiring from UCS, Jane moved back to the county and became the director of the Jefferson County Museum in Charles Town. In 2021, the Jefferson County NAACP and the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society recognized her changes in the museum to reflect the diverse people of the county and their contributions to its history.
Jane was a devoted sister and a generous and loyal friend. She delighted in several very special children of friends. Because of her natural playfulness, they all thought of her as a playmate, but actually, the respect, the gentleness, the openness to the world she fostered helped form them into adults with a moral compass and compassion that enriches their lives.
Her values were her north star, secular yet sacred. Her ardent feminism informed her world view and her actions against injustice.
Although known for her indomitable work ethic, she had many other interests— traveling, cycling, skiing, blacksmithing, volunteering at D.C. schools and soup kitchens, theater going, and, always, voracious reading. She loved good food but loathed cooking. Eschewing many things modern, she was devoted to vintage Sunday evening radio dramas and to such lost arts as mending. Never did she own a “smart” appliance, but was rather a prodigious writer of lists and notes by pen and paper—rarely missing special days of family and friends, new books to read, new ideas to explore.
For those who knew Jane well, she was uproariously funny, often using a self-appointed curmudgeon role to deliver some of her most incisive and entertaining humor.
In addition to her parents, Jane was preceded in death by her sister Susan Rissler Sheely. She is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Patricia Rissler and James Rogers; her brother-in-law, Robert Sheely, all of Jefferson County; cousins; special friend and traveling companion, Susan Whitmore, Oakton, Va.; godson Brian Kotz, Martinsburg, W.Va.; and many other friends.
A memorial gathering will be held on Friday, March 3, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. on the second floor of Charles Washington Hall (100 West Washington Street, Charles Town, WV 25414) This venue is handicapped accessible. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Farmland Protection Board Easement Acquisition Fund, P.O. Box 731, Charles Town, WV 25414.
Arrangements are by the Melvin T. Strider Colonial Funeral Home, Ranson, WV.
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