Cover photo for Jane Thomas Heins Kowell Escher's Obituary
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Jane Thomas Heins Kowell Escher

June 9, 1931 — March 29, 2023


Jane Thomas Heins Kowell Escher


Jane Thomas Heins Howell Escher, 91, a native of Lee County well known for her many generous contributions to philanthropic causes and noted leader in both church and civic activities, passed on.


The daughter of Mary Thomas and Leland (“Love”) Heins, Jane was born June 9, 1931, in Sanford, NC where she lived until age 19. After graduating Sanford High School in 1949, she joined the U.S. Navy where she was trained in the area of cryptography.


There she met Don R. Kowell, a MASTEC Chief in the U.S. Navy. They were wed in 1952. Born to this inion were two daughters Connie and Kelly.  Jane kept the home-fires burning as the couple was deployed to various locations. In all assignments she entered local activities, becoming a valued neighbor and friend. Most favorite if these postings was a three year stint in Scotland where she became a life member of the Brechin, Scotland, chapter of Eastern Star. Both Don and Jane were proud veterans of the United States.


The Kowells moved to Puerto Rico in 1953, and, while there, Jane received news of the unexpected death of her mother, who died at the early age of 50. Jane and Connie returned to Sanford so she could care for her father and 14-year-old brother, Chan. She remained the caretaker of her father for the remainder of his life, with husband Don lending his support. After retiring her husband died in 1980.


Later she met and married John Escher, Jr., who had retired to Carolina Trace from Rye, N.Y. John and Jane spent five happy years together, traveling extensively in both Europe and Africa until his death in 1992.


Jane served on the Heins Telephone Board, was a hospital volunteer for 26 years, was a founding board member of the Boys and Girls Club, and for eight years was a Hospice volunteer and board member. She was a member of the Bread Basket Board for eight years and served of the Lee County Board of Nursing Homes. She was a member and president of the Sanford Ladies Golf Club and formerly belonged to the Sanford Brush and Palette Club. A devoted member of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, she served as Junior Warden, and was a member of the adult choir for 30 years.


She is survived by two daughters, Connie (Nelson) Suitt and Kelly Burke; two granddaughters Sarah Craig and Katie (Matt) Perkinson; two great grandsons, Porter Thomas Craig and Fletcher Heins Perkinson; and two great-grand daughters, Drew Scarlett Craig and Sarah Sterling Perkinson. Other surviving family members are two nieces Chana Meeks and Jennifer “Taffy” Heins, and one nephew, Michael Heins.


The family would like to extend a special thank you to Parkview Rest and Retirement and FirstHealth Hospice.


A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday April 11, 2023, at 11:00 am at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sanford.


Memorial contributions can be made to Holly’s Nest, P.O. Box 4086, Sanford, NC 27331, or to Floyd Knight, to contribute to the school age playground, at 607 W. McIntosh Street., Sanford, NC 27330.


This poem was taught to Jane by her grandmother and was special to her:


Boys flying kites,

Haul in your white-winged birds,

You can’t do that

When you’re flying words.


Thoughts oft expressed

Ay sometimes fall back dead

But even God can’t call

Them back once they’re said.   

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Past Services

Memorial Service

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

St Thomas Episcopal Church

N Steele St, Sanford, NC 27330

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