Jane Mac Iver

Date of Death

Jane slipped away from her children on the rainy evening of January 9th when they were briefly out of the room; perhaps she wanted to spare them the anguish of hearing her last breath.
If so, it was her final act of generosity in a life filled with love, and grace, and laughter.
She began that life in rural Wisconsin, the fourth of six in a loving Irish-American family. After a year of college, then work at a bank in Milwaukee, the year-round sunshine of California beckoned.
Love also beckoned, and Jane soon met her lifelong sweetheart, Kenneth — a recent immigrant from England by way of Chicago. She was then living at the Glendale YWCA, on East Lexington, and he at the Glendale YMCA, on East Wilson. They married in 1955. The seven couples they came to know in that milieu (“the Y Group”) remained friends for the rest of their lives, reuniting every December.
Jane and Ken welcomed a daughter, Cathie, then a son, Bill, and moved to La Cañada in 1962. Their close-knit neighborhood was home to several families who belonged to Holy Redeemer Parish and spent every Easter vacation waterskiing at the Colorado River and Lake Havasu.
Jane had a hunger for knowledge that she fed with reading and travel; if the two could be combined, so much the better. She loved histories of World War II and knew the difference between a B-17 and a B-29. She and Ken toured several Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields in their retirement.
Art history was another interest. In Toledo, Spain, a sudden back injury at 41 did not deter Jane from hobbling several blocks to see El Greco’s Burial of the Count of Orgaz. Years later, she was proud of the paper she wrote on Caravaggio’s Conversion on the Way to Damascus, which her professor singled out for praise.
To both friends and family, Jane was an ideal traveling companion: well-organized, but never to excess. The little adventures she and Ken and the kids had on trips to Europe provided a store of private jokes and family lore for decades. Crises large and small were taken in stride (eventually) since there was always the presumption that an amusing story would result.
A former cheerleader, Jane was a bundle of energy in her prime. Much to Ken’s consternation, she took twice as many paces as he did, but managed to walk twice as fast.
In 1966 she joined the Cabrini Literary Guild and cherished the many enduring friendships made there — in particular, that of her dearest friend, Mary Jay, who died in 2017.
She was (to the frequent eyerolls of her children) a self-proclaimed “news junkie,” devouring two newspapers and as many hours of TV news per day, including BBC North America. She deftly deployed the mute button when certain politicians and unsavory others would appear. She never missed Jeopardy.
Jane had a soft spot for critters: especially the tiny blue-bellied lizards basking on the patio, with their deadpan expressions and comical displays of push-ups. One summer evening she found, improbably, a Cecropia moth with a five-inch wingspan clinging to the porchlight. The photograph she mailed to an entomologist at Cal Poly Pomona drew an excited reply.
Five years ago, she fractured her ankle and bore the injury — and the rigors of rehab — with quiet courage and good humor, just as she faced her cancer diagnosis six months ago. In her last week of life, the hospice nurses demanded to know how she managed to look so young at 91. (Her one-word answer: Clinique.)
But Jane’s greatest legacy is how, and with what apparent ease, she combined beauty and humility with a natural kindness that expressed itself, among other ways, in countless notes of sympathy, encouragement, and congratulation. She was greatly loved and is already missed.
Survivors include her children, Cathie and Bill; her beloved sister and remaining sibling, Ann Phelps; her son-in-law, Jim Slaughter; her granddaughter, Jane Slaughter; and many nieces and nephews, including Kristin and Olivia Shaw.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Los Angeles Mission or World Vision International.