Aiken, Jane Andrews

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Dr. Jane Andrews Aiken, of Blacksburg, Va. and Truro, Mass., 68, died Thursday, April 13, 2006 at her home in Blacksburg.

Jane was born in Hartford, Conn. on January 7, 1938 to the late Ernest Tisdale and Marian Young Andrews. In spite of contracting polio during her senior year, Jane graduated 1st in her class from Oxford School, West Hartford, in 1956. She went on to study art history at Wellesley College, graduating in 1960. A master’s degree from Columbia University soon followed.

In 1962 she married William Minor Aiken. After raising three children and establishing the first preschool in Truro, she returned to her studies and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University at the age of 47. Thereafter she taught Renaissance art history at Virginia Tech where she helped establish and later directed the Art History Program, retiring as Professor Emerita in 2001.

Jane’s devotion to education was demonstrated throughout her life and work. She spearheaded, along with her good friend Jeanette Bowker, the Art on Campus Project. She published numerous articles in periodicals and books on topics ranging from the art and science of Leonardo DaVinci to Alberti’s system of proportions to Massaccio’s Trinity Fresco and medieval astronomical graphics.

She presented papers nationally, internationally, and locally – never able to say no when asked to share her time and expertise. Jane was also a gifted teacher and inspired many students to follow both art history and their own personal goals.

Jane expressed a lifelong concern for social justice and ministering to the needs of others. Always ready to help family, friends, and colleagues through any kind of difficulty, she also devoted time and financial support to numerous political, educational, and service organizations. She funded entire houses for Habitat for Humanity and for the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund.

Left to cherish Jane’s memory are her husband of 43 years, William Minor Aiken; her daughter, Katherine Minor Aiken Sullivan and husband, Dan of Blacksburg; her son, Matthew Andrews Aiken and wife, Patricia of Birmingham, Ala.; her daughter, Elizabeth Young Aiken of North Carolina; her brother, Ernest Tisdale Andrews III and wife, Priscilla; her sister, Susan A. Nisula and husband Bruce; her brother-in-law, Rev. Richard Lloyd Aiken and partner, Shirley; her grandchildren, Aisha Andrews Mitchell (20), Kevin Andrews Sullivan (20), Charles Minor Sullivan (17), Nicole Marie Sullivan (15), James Aiken Sullivan (14), Nicholas Minor Sullivan (10), William Parke Aiken (8), Campbell Bowman Aiken (5), Epiphany Faith Eliza Aiken (5); nieces and nephews, Alison, Margaret, Andrew, Khooshe, Mina, Saam, Kathy, Dan, Dale, Ian, Lenna, Decklin, Dallas, Brian, Kenneth, and Karli; loving caregivers, Claudia, Deborah, Amy, Tracie, and Liz; and many beloved friends.

A memorial service will be held Monday, April 17, 2006 at noon at Christ Episcopal Church in Blacksburg with the Rev. Scott Russell officiating. A memorial service will also be held at 3 p.m. on June 24, 2006 at St. Mary’s of the Harbor in Provincetown, Mass. with a burial at the First Congregational Church in Truro to follow, the Rev. Shariya Molegoda officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Blacksburg New School, 2470 Ramble Road, Blacksburg, Va. 24060.

The family wishes to thank members of Christ Episcopal Church, colleagues at Virginia Tech, extended family, and the many friends and neighbors who provided prayers, letters, food, flowers, and loving support over the past nine months. The family will receive friends Saturday, April 15, 2006 from 4 to 6 p.m. at McCoy Funeral Home, 150 Country Club Drive, SW, Blacksburg.