Dr. Mary Jane Yurchak (nee Hogan), formerly of Westfield, NJ; Wellesley, MA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; and Washington Depot, CT; died peacefully at home on Friday, August 9, 2019, in Warren, NJ, at age 83.
Mary Jane is survived by her daughter Kathleen D. Fritz (Christopher) of Oak Park, IL; daughter Patricia Anne Rexford (Clisson) of Warren, NJ; son Dr. P. Michael Yurchak (Molly) of Pasadena, CA; and grandsons Peter and Charlie Rexford of Warren and Luca and Sascha Yurchak of Pasadena. She is also survived by her sister Kathleen Hogan Bradish (John) of Williamsburg, VA; and brother-in-law Albert Staebler of Little Compton, RI. Her former husband, Dr. Peter M. Yurchak of Wellesley, MA, died in 2007. Mary Jane was preceded in death by her beloved daughter Mary Elizabeth Yurchak, sister Patricia Hogan Staebler, parents Jane and Michael Hogan, and stepmother Mary Hogan of Westfield, NJ.
Mary Jane was born on January 19, 1936, in New Brunswick, NJ, and grew up in Westfield, NJ, where she attended Westfield High School. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Vassar College in 1958 and earned both a master’s degree in elementary education (1959) and a doctorate in human development (1976) from Harvard University.
Mary Jane’s early career included positions as a general-education and special-education teacher in New York and Massachusetts; director of education for the Brookline Early Education Project (MA); senior research associate and project director at the Huron Institute (Cambridge, MA); and assistant superintendent for special education and special services for the Wayland Public Schools (MA). She lectured at institutions including the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Wheelock College, Tufts University, and the University of Chicago.
From 1985 to 2005, she served as head of three independent schools: the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (IL), the Hewitt School (NY), and Poughkeepsie Day School (NY). Upon her retirement, Mary Jane relocated to her beloved house in the woods in Washington Depot, CT, where she devoted her energies to volunteering at the Gunn Memorial Library, the Steep Rock Preserve, and the Washington Ambulance Association, for which she obtained her certification as an emergency medical technician in 2012. She was also an avid gardener.
Mary Jane was a devoted grandmother, who shared her love of nature, reading, bird-watching, and swimming—and secret stashes of chocolate—with Luca, Sascha, Peter, and Charlie. To each of them, she was a reliable confidant, cheerleader, and co-conspirator, and they will cherish their many memories of their beloved “Mia.”
According to her wishes, a private observance for immediate family will be held at a later date. Family and friends wanting to honor Mary Jane may send donations to the Washington Ambulance Association (http://www.washingtonct.org/ambulance-association) or the Steep Rock Association (https://steeprockassoc.org).