Having lived a long and fulfilling life, Dorothy Jane Ahlfield of North East, Pa., passed away quietly on April 2, 2023 at the UPMC Hamot Hospital in Erie, Pa. She was 86 years old. Jane, as she was known by all, was the daughter of the late Richard B. Schlaudecker and the late Dorothy Jane (Dede) Schlaudecker Ryberg, born to them on May 3, 1936 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Erie.
Jane loved recalling how, as a young girl growing up in Erie and known fondly by friends as DJ, she would walk through all kinds of weather … including the bitter snows of winter … to and from Harding Elementary School and later, in her middle grades, Strong Vincent School. As a high school senior, she graduated in 1954 from what was then Mercyhurst Seminary, known today as Mercyhurst Preparatory School. For several semesters beyond high school, she attended St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. Afterwards, during her first marriage to Joseph Conrath, also of Erie, she gave birth to two sons, cited below.
Jane was predeceased by her eldest sister, Roylee Simpson McCullough of Alexandria, Va. Thankfully though, she is survived by many: her husband of 46 years, Richard E. Ahlfield; her two sons, Richard J. Conrath (Timi) of Loudoun County, Va., David A. Conrath (Deena) of Louisa County, Va.; her daughter, Jane Elizabeth Ahlfield of Richmond, Va.; her two younger sisters, Marcella (Marcy) Schlaudecker Bowles of Erie, Dixie Schlaudecker Sayles of Erie; two grandsons, Hunter R. Conrath of Henrico, Va., and Parker H. Conrath of Broomfield, Colo., and a loving cohort of nephews and nieces.
Throughout her life, Jane was immensely creative, talented, and productive. As her mother observed, “that child can do anything with her hands!” Time proved that statement correct. Whether she was knitting, cross-stitching, sewing, or making macramé wall hangings, her creations were always inventive, visually appealing, and reflective of advanced craftsmanship. However, pottery and basketry were her true creative passions. She exhibited and marketed her works continuously during a 25-year period, during which time she achieved professional recognition and acclaim. She specialized in high-fired functional stoneware, primitive pit-fired sculptural pieces, and exquisite artisan baskets made of natural materials gathered from the woods. Her work served as an inspiration for many and rendered objects of great pleasure and satisfaction to the advanced aesthetic eye.
Beyond her artistic output, Jane was employed for 12 years in Mathews Memorial Library, where she became known to children and their parents as “Miss Jane.” Many a child enjoyed the weekly story times and many a parent was grateful for the sensitivity and care Miss Jane provided to “her” children.
Jane was a devoted mother, an avid reader, a nature lover and bird-watcher, a lifelong dog owner, and a collector of period American antiques that were compatible with her 19th century wood-framed country home in Mathews County, Va. During her later years, Jane divided her time between Mathews County and North East, Pa. She found great inner peace by living alongside large bodies of water, including her beloved James River, the Chesapeake Bay, and again … later in life … Lake Erie.
A private memorial service will be held at a later date, followed by a private interment at Trinity Cemetery in Erie. In support of strong communities and all who read or are learning to read, donations may be made to Mathews Memorial Library in Mathews, Va., or to McCord Memorial Library in North East, Pa.
Family members wish to acknowledge the Kloecker-Bailey Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., which assisted with final arrangements. This obituary is also posted online at www.forevermissed.com.