In Memoriam

Mary Jane Schmidt (Rutsch)

Mary Jane Schmidt (Rutsch)

Mary Jane (Schmidt) Rutsch, 47, of Newton, NJ, died April 28, 1989 at Newton Memorial Hospital after a long bout with cancer.

Mrs. Rutsch graduated from Teaneck High School in 1959.  She received a B.A. degree (cum laude) from Mount Holyoke College in 1963, and attended the Historic Preservation Program, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, from 1973-1978.

Mrs. Rutsch started her career in 1963 as a technical textbook editor with Prentice-Hall, Inc. and also worked in that capacity for Harcourt, Brace & World (now Jovanovich).  In 1966, she became a freelance editor, responsible for the publications of the American Indian in New York City, The American Civilization Institute of Historic Archeology, and the bulletin of the Archaeological Society of New Jersey.  In 1973, she founded a cultural resource management firm specializing in industrial site s – Historic Conservation and Interpretation, Inc. of Newton – of which she was owner and Secretary-Treasurer.

She served as a trustee of the Passaic County Historical Society, 1974-1978, a trustee of Culver Brook Restoration Foundation of Branchville, 1980-1983, and was a founder of the Historic Preservation Coalition of Sussex County in 1985.

Mary Jane was a founding member of the Society for Industrial Archeology, which she served in a number of ways, as Registrar at the First Annual Meeting at Cooper Union, New York, and as Director of two SIA Fall Tours – one to Paterson’s Historic Industrial Landmark District, and a second on the IA of the Passaic River Valley.   She helped found the Roebling Metropolitan Area Chapter and served as its first president.   Here participation included such diverse tasks as designing (with Graphic Artist Lynda Spozarsky) the poster for the Newark NJ Meeting as well as the layout of the Iron Master’s Symposium newsletter.  Her IA editorial contributions resulted in the 1974 publication of a joint SIA and Council for Northeast Archeology Journal on the subject of industrial archeology in Paterson, New Jersey, as well as many of ECI’s I.A. site reports.   She also co-authored (with Jo Ann Cotz) a study of Dublin, A Paterson NJ workers’ housing district.

In May 1985, she became a part-time film critic for the New Jersey Herald in Newton, New Jersey.  She won several awards for her writing, including a second place award in the critical writing category of the New Jersey Press Association’s annual competition.

Mrs. Rutsch is survived by her husband, Edward S. Rutsch.


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05/13/13 05:24 PM #1    

Emily Miller (d'Aulaire)

Not long before her death, Mary Jane sent me a silver charm of a whale (in memory of our days in Water Ballet at  Mt. Holyoke, though I like to think we weren't really whale-like), explaining that her grandmother had told her it was better to give away with a warm hand than a cold one.  Accepting that philosophy, Mary Jane was sending special gifts to special friends. "I confess that some are getting fancy jewelry, Emily,"  she wrote in the letter that accompanied the unexpected gift,  "but this makes me think of  you and all that time we spent in the pool."  I wrote and asked if I could visit her.  "Yes," she replied, "but you'd better hurry."  We'd been out of touch and I had no idea she was so ill.  I went immediately and we had a wonderful day together: reminiscing for hours, often laughing so hard we could barely continue.

She died less than a week later.  I treasure the silver whale.  Even more I treasure the friendship I shared with Mary Jane--and that last day we spent together.

05/14/13 10:10 AM #2    

Sheila Crocker (Denny-Brown)

As a fellow English major, I shared classes with Mary Jane and particularly enjoyed working with her on the yearbook staff. She was brave and funny and bright. Seeing her at the reunion she came to before she died was inspiring. She wanted it just to be a normal time, and to participate as fully as she could in everything. I'm glad to have known her.

Sheila Crocker Denny-Brown

05/18/13 10:41 AM #3    

Elizabeth Ingram (Brown)

Mary Jane was my buddy from day 1 or maybe 2 as I waited in the smoker for the Dean to come tell me they had made a mistake and I had to go home.  Her wild, irreverent sense of humor, boundary pushing and intense loyalty provided a rock and a challenge in our college days, then a source of always surprising entertainment in the next 26 years.  One of our best times was a tour of urban archeological sites in Manhattan, led by MJ and her husband ,Ed  for my husband and sons.  The 25th reunion provided our chance to get together just as she received her dire diagnosis.  We had a fine time with Gail Carver Faris and Emily Miller d'Aulaire and were in close touch for her last year.  

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