Jane Noel, 87WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Jane Stinson Leland Gordon Noel, 87, formerly of Williamstown, died peacefully on Sunday, June 8, 2014, at her home in Boston.
Born in Pittsfield on July 17, 1926, the fifth and youngest child of Lauris Goldsmith and Helen Fowle Treadway, her father was founder of the Treadway Inns. Growing up in Williamstown in the hospitality business, she was introduced to captivating people, live theater and books at an early age, developing a love for them that continued throughout her life.
She attended Northfield School for Girls, Colby Junior College and Mount Holyoke College.
Mrs. Noel spent time working at the Schloss Mittersill in Austria and at Mittersill Resort in Franconia, N.H. In the 1960s, she worked for AAA Travel Services in Boston.
As an adventurer and world traveler, she felt comfortable and easily adapted wherever she went. Her adventures took her through several marriages and across many continents. England, Scotland, northern Italy were among her favorite spots, and she often spoke affectionately about the year she lived in Paris in 1992.
An athlete and sportswoman at a time when athletics was not fashionable for most girls, Mrs. Noel was an avid tennis player and skier.
She began to ski at age 12, training with the Williams College Ski Team. While living in Reno, Nev., she was a ski instructor at nearby Mount Rose, and hunted elk with her second husband, Robert Leland.
She also loved to dance and reading was a favorite pastime. She found joy in reading to others, whether it was to children at a family gathering, or reading the newspaper to the blind at the local radio station in Duxbury. Live theater was her biggest joy, especially on Broadway and at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. She saved the playbill from every theatrical performance she attended, many of them autographed.
About three years ago on a visit to New Hampshire, she still enjoyed swimming, playing a round of golf, and rode a horse for a gentle trot around the pasture.
Very much a woman of the past, she reflected her upbringing with graciousness, dignity, perfect manners, and an excellent command of the English language, said family. But she was also a woman of today, with the spirit and freedom to be and do what she wanted, and to do it with flair.
She had an uncanny ability to draw people to her from all walks of life, bringing them into her "cuddle" of friends, as she liked to call it. Having her as a friend was a gift, because her attention was genuine, non-judgmental, and she saw only the best in everyone, family said. There was always a twinkle in her eyes ready for the next adventure. She possessed a great sense of humor and the ability to share a good joke, as long as she did not crack up trying to do so.
She had a rebellious streak, living in the moment and to the fullest. At times this created a certain amount of drama and was the reason behind her various nicknames, for example "Auntie Chaos." She had an inner strength to survive, and tremendous resilience to bounce back from the challenges she encountered throughout her life, said family, even a debilitating stroke and a car accident that seriously injured her foot did not slow her down.
In her later years she made Boston her retirement community, taking advantage of all it had to offer and befriending anyone who crossed her path. There was always a friend willing to play a game of Scrabble or to see a movie.
Many of the city's restaurant staff came to know her, greeting her with a hug, sitting her at the most quiet table, and bringing over a Kir Royale or her special Palm Tree ice tea with lemon wedges around the glass.
She enjoyed her position as matriarch and was proud of her heritage and her family. She loved to share stories of her past, revisiting the memories she had collected in her lifetime.
Her first husband, Jack Stinson, whom she married in 1946, is deceased.
Her husbands Robert Leland, Robert Gordon and Victor Noel are also deceased.
She leaves two sons, Peter Treadway Stinson and his wife, Kathleen, of Belchertown and William Treadway Stinson and his wife, Susan, of Williamstown; a daughter, Barbara Gordon Elliott and her husband, David Elliott, of London; a stepdaughter, Diane Noel and her husband, Tim Steury, of Potlatch, Idaho; her five grandchildren, Jake, Matthew, Lani and Emily Stinson and David Steury; two great-grandchildren; 13 nieces and nephews, and countless friends.
Her siblings Richard, John and David Treadway and Antoinette Treadway Fowle, predeceased her.
FUNERAL NOTICE — Donations in Mrs. Noel's memory may be made to Beacon Hill Village of Boston, a non-profit group that helped her to continue her active lifestyle right up until her death.
A memorial service will take place at a later date. Hamel Funeral Care of Quincy is handling the burial.