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Mary Jane Kroon
December 24, 1944 ~ August 18, 2023 (age 78) 78 Years Old
Mary Jane Kroon passed away on August 18, 2023 on her late mother Mary Jane Sheehan’s birthday, surrounded by family and overlooking the Navesink River she called home for more than two decades.
Born in Long Branch, NJ in 1944 on Christmas Eve, she and her twin brother George would only meet their father, Dr. George Sheehan, upon his return from his post as a naval medical officer in the Pacific Theater. As the eldest of twelve children growing up in Rumson, NJ, Mary Jane was dedicated to her parents and siblings. Growing up, she lent an invaluable right-hand to her mother in caring for the babies and toddlers as they came along one by one. A loyal companion, friend, and role model at home, in school and in life, the caption under her high school yearbook picture read, “Her modest answers and graceful air reveal her infinite sweetness.” Her sisters and brothers looked up to her and were eager to learn from her. Her intelligence and passion emerged during her college years, and she shared her ideas with the family, introducing new perspectives at the dinner table on visits home. She was a voracious reader and excelled academically. She attended Manhattanville College, her mother’s alma mater, where she majored in art history and, later, earned a master’s in Education from Harvard. There she met her future husband Rick at a co-ed mixer with the business school, after complimenting him on the homemade sweater he was wearing. Prior to starting their family, she worked with impoverished children and families in New York City through Head Start on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. Mary Jane and Rick traveled the world together, raising the first three of their children in London while Rick opened the UK office for Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette. After returning to Rumson in 1977, she was an active community member, lobbying successfully for all-day public kindergarten and volunteering for the Visiting Nurses Association. After her fourth child, Andrew, was born with a congenital heart defect but miraculously survived, she added two more kids to the mix, and was often seen shuttling all six in her wood-paneled station wagon, newborn in one hand, steering wheel in the other. Life was chaotic but happy, with long summer days spent at the Monmouth Beach Club where her grandchildren are now fifth generation members. Making it seem easy, she prepared meals for eight, including the comforting roasts her mother taught her. Big family gatherings for holidays were much anticipated events in her childhood home, and Mary Jane continued this tradition, hosting her large extended family for Thanksgiving dinners, Easter Egg Hunts, and other celebrations, always leading each meal with a thoughtful and moving toast. Somehow she found time to instill in her children an appreciation of art and music, toting toddlers and teens to museums, Broadway shows, and concerts. As her children became more independent, she rededicated herself to supporting the arts and helping the less fortunate, including serving as a long-time board member of Red Bank’s award-winning Two River Theatre. After her son Andrew tragically died due to his heart condition at the age of 25, Mary Jane and Rick directed their anguish towards causes dear to their late son, including establishing scholarships for environmental studies at Yale as well as founding the Andrew Kroon Memorial scholarship, which has to date helped over 80 local Hispanic students attend college. Also sensitive to those with mental health challenges, she was a founding board member of Shore House, a local organization dedicated to restoring hope and independence to those living with mental illness. Her later years were blessed by the company of her 12 beloved grandchildren, cooking for 20 or more in the Okemo, VT “ski haus” where she took joy witnessing all three generations of her family grow incredibly close. Throughout it all, she never stopped learning, reading the New York Times cover to cover every morning and savoring books by the fire, with her husband in view, doing the same. Every day of her life, Mary Jane put family first. A fierce protector of her children and grandchildren, she was a constant source of unconditional love to them, to her many nieces and nephews, and their children too. Mary Jane is survived by her husband Rick, her five children David (Jody), Sarah (Benson Chiles), Molly (John Jakubecy), Stephen and Michael, and her twelve grandchildren, Ethan, Benson, Michaela, Andrew, Jack, Ainsley, Eliza, Liam, Cole, Patrick, Briar and Helen, and her ten siblings, George, Tim, Ann, Nora, Sarah, Andrew, John, Stephen, Monica, and Michael. She is predeceased by her parents George and Mary Jane, her brother Peter, and son Andrew. A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, August 29th at 11:00 AM at the Rumson Country Club River House. In honor of Mary Jane’s life, the family asks that charitable donations be made to Shore House (shorehousenj.org).
Tuesday August 29, 2023 11:00 AM to TBD River House at Rumson Country Club 163 Rumson Road Rumson, NJ 07760