Throughout her life, Mary Jane Cottle often told her family that she would always be with us: As she had danced with us in life, she would be dancing through all the universe around us when she left her body behind. Loving wife, mother, sister, grandmother, neighbor, and friend, Jane Cottle began that new dance beyond her body on August 2, 2023.
In the days before her passing, we shared memories of her open soul, free spirit, and loving heart. “She never knew a stranger.” Born and raised in Savannah, GA, she played the violin, studied with dancer Franziska Boaz at Shorter College, and graduated from Georgia Southern with a degree in special education. She also trained as a Montessori teacher and always loved teaching children to use all their senses to understand and celebrate being part of the world.
Throughout her life she wrote letters, poetry, and prose celebrating the Christ spirit and never-ending Creation, as she wrote, “the myriad, countless forms scattered throughout the infinite universes.” She traveled the country with her two children, Helen and Paul, exploring many different ways of living, from ashrams and communes to farms and charismatic Christian communities.
In the nineties she re-met the love of her life, John Cottle. His tender loving care was the wind beneath her wings as she created a beautiful, welcoming home that reflected her exuberance and delight in words, forms, colors, and textures. Every wall of the house was covered with books, including an extensive collection of children’s books featuring art and stories from around the world. She gathered together a panorama of craft and art: paintings, carvings, stained glass, pottery, sculpture, fabrics, oriental rugs, masks, puppets, life sized mannequins, and a menagerie of colorful animals, from tiny clay figurines to two large beautiful horses made of solid, swirl-grained cherry wood. And yes, somehow she got a tall antique telephone booth into the house. It remains a mystery to her family how she got that done.
In her final days of a long illness, she was surrounded and supported by the love of her husband, children, grandchildren, extended family, and neighbors. Her last days were eased and comforted by their prayers and stories of how she had touched and changed their lives with her fiery, generous, loving spirit.