In Memory

Jane Bailowitz

Jane passed away on May 1, 2012, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

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05/24/12 08:35 PM #1    

Deborah Bernick




Jane Bailowitz, MD passed away on May 1, 2012  in Oakland California, after a valiant 2 and ½ year struggle with pancreatic cancer, far outliving a tough prognosis.  She was an internist, serving many AIDS patients and others for more than two decades at the Castro-Mission Health Center in San Francisco.  She was also an avid bicyclist.   In fact, Jane suggested that if her favorite organization, the Grizzly Peak Cyclists, held a bicycle outing in her memory after her passing, NO ONE SHOULD WEAR BLACK.

That was Jane.   She loved life, and she helped others celebrate the fun aspects of it, even after she had fallen ill.  During one of her remissions last year, she actually had the courage to take a two-week group bicycling trip in the hills of Oregon.  What determination!

Jane was our 1968 high school valedictorian.  She was a brilliant student in math and science and the tops in all her test scores. She also had a sly and wonderful sense of humor, and was enormously creative in her writing, and in her challenging conversations. Once in our sophomore year Jane told me I should read "A Wrinkle in Time,” since she loved science fiction and parables.  Oy, I never did get to read it then.  So I just picked up a copy this week, in Jane's honor.

Jane’s father, Isadore Bailowitz, the orchestra teacher at Ryan Junior High School, instilled in Jane (and many other kids in our neighborhood!) a lifelong love of music.  Jane never forgot her classical roots. 

Jane and I first met during a Camp Wel-Met camping trip to the Grand Canyon, together with Judy Weintraub, ’68, in the summer of ’65.   As you may recall, Jane had super-long hair, and it was a challenge for both Jane and Judy to find proper water pumps and shower facilities at the scruffy campgrounds we stayed at, in order to wash their beautiful hair!   But they succeeded, and we had a blast seeing America and pitching tents between here and Arizona.

Jane and I shared English, Calculus, Physics and a few other classes. In any classroom with Jane, all the other students benefitted from her academic prowess.  She and I went together to a summer science program at Brown University in July '67, where we nicknamed her “Drain” (I’m not sure why, except for the rhyme), and she nicknamed me “Roll”  (in honor of my love of bread - which continues to this day!) I still have a hand-lettered birthday card in my files which says:  “Hi Roll.  Happy 15 and 354/365ths birthday!   Love, Drain.” 

Back in Queens, Jane and a bunch of our friends held basement parties often, and we went on lots of outings, including concerts (Simon and Garfunkel -- or was it Barbara Streisand -- or both?) in Central Park.

Jane and I were both officers of the Arista Honor Society, along with Steve Goode, Andrea Boyar, and Barry Winters.  We planned fun events together (we thought!), and had many zany conversations in our little office.  Jane was ALWAYS stimulating and a hoot to be with.

Jane and I went up to the Cornell campus together in the Fall of '67, to look at college campuses. She later sent me some amusing letters during her freshman year at Cornell. She took pleasure in expressing her total disdain for the pomposity of tenured college professors and other figures of authority.  Jane was a real straight shooter and did not suffer fools gladly.

I remember Jane speaking about her love of National Parks and the great outdoors, right after she moved to California.  She once told me she thought being a Park Ranger would be a great alternative career for her. 

I am very grateful that during the time my family lived in the Bay Area (1994-98), I got to re-connect with Jane, and that she and her partner, Joann Selisker, came to my older daughter Dina's Bat Mitzvah, not far from their home in Oakland.  Her hair was much shorter and a bit greyer than way back when we were 15, but the close feelings were still the same!

Finally, I want to share a touching excerpt from one of the last emails Jane wrote to me, in Fall, 2011.  “About my own family, there is sad news and happy news.  The sad news is that we saw the movie “Mozart’s Sister” yesterday, and it left me weeping for my father, who is no longer around to play Mozart so beautifully on the piano.  The happy news is that my mother Anna, who turned 97 last month and lives in Boca Raton, just called Virgin Airlines and bought herself a ticket to come visit me;  can you imagine?  We will pick her up at the airport in SF this coming Wednesday after my treatment.  She will stay for 10 days, so we’ll be together for Rosh Hashanah.  We are both aware that it could be the last for either of us, so of course it is bittersweet.”

She then went on to recommend a book for me to read, about cancer no less, noting -- “It is written in a comic format (that's why I thought of you), and is a real gem.”

So even at a difficult time in her life, Jane thought of her mother, and of what I might enjoy reading  -- including a humorous take on a dark subject.   She, herself, was truly a gem.

Farewell Jane --  #1 student, and a superlative person.

Debbie Bernick

P.S. In a recent email, Joann Selisker, Jane’s spouse, wrote about Jane:  “My mother came to be with us during the last difficult month of Jane's life. When she arrived, Jane said to her "I'm so glad you're here! Maybe you'll be around when I burst out of here." She was. What a bright and peppy way to go, Ms Jane. Bravo! 


05/25/12 12:57 PM #2    

Jane Gross (Cooperman)

I loved Debbie's note. I knew Jane very well when we were just children, and then lost her to junior high. We had no connection in high school though I still knew of her and admired her.

We were Jane B. and Jane G. in elementary school, and you could have said Jane 1 and Jane 2, because she was always ahead of me. We had something else in common - both our fathers were named Isidore. And I did have him as an orchestra teacher in Junior High. We both skipped a grade together at P.S. 177.

We lived a few blocks from each other in Fresh Meadows. I still have vivid memories of playing with her at her house - we explored things we knew little about as we played bartender! and sometimes bowling (we knew a little more about that). I remember she had at least one brother (was his name Rick?). Not all memories are so clear. I can picture her twelve year old face, though, and her long straight hair which I envied.

I didn't hear a word about Jane B after high school, until one day Debbie Bernick emailed me and I learned about her diagnosis. I wanted to say something to Jane, but how do you approach someone after 40+ years? And because I knew she was so sick, I didn't want to impose on her my own need to reach out. I did it anyway, writing some of my memories of her, and Jane responded with kindness and wit. "What a hoot!" is what she wrote, specifically.

Our connection was so long ago, it barely relates to her adult life. But we still had a connection, and I am very sad that she is gone from this world. She fought a brave fight.

05/27/12 12:32 AM #3    

Ronnie Fluxgold (Strum)

I remember how Jane stood tilting forward on the balls of her feet head tipped left or right like a listener, or more likely curious and ready to jump in.  I knew you then.  I wish I'd known you now.  We think we have time.

As emailed to me from Suzanne Bloom

09/21/12 01:20 PM #4    

Ronnie Fluxgold (Strum)

As emailed to me from a former student of Jane's Dad.


Please convey my condolences to the family of Dr. Jane Bailowitz as well as to her extended family. I never met Dr. Jane Bailowitz. The information on your website about her father, Isadore Bailowitz, leads me to believe that he was my music teacher when I attended John Erickson JHS in Greenpoint Brooklyn circa 1954. During my search for “isadore Bailowitz” I came across your memorial website which prompted me to share my encounter with Dr. Bailowitz’s father. My name is Ed Konecnik, I am a 72 year old retired music teacher, singer and musician. I have performed and recorded several albums in the EU. As Media Center Director for the NYC Teacher Centers Consortium, I received many grants, facilitated creation of original videos produced by students and teachers, distributed original music videos focusing on values to all schools as part of the NYC curriculum on values “Lessons In Values Education” (LIVE). We all can recall events or people who have in some way profoundly affected our lives. Such an event for me was having Mr. Bailowitz as my music teacher. My parents involved me in a variety of activities including lessons on the accordion. By the time I reached the eighth grade, I was fairly proficient but it was Mr. Bailowitz who recognized and nurtured my musical talent and gave me opportunities to develop and gain confidence by including me in many performances and recitals. He insisted I apply for acceptance to the High School of Music and Art, among the top rated schools in NYC at the time. His guidance and encouragement at a pivotal moment in my life sent me on a life’s journey that has been successful and rewarding. I will be eternally grateful for his support, advice and influence on my life. Ed Konecnik

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