Jane was born just after the great stock market crash known as Black Tuesday on Oct. 29, 1929. Her formative years were spent on the southside of Chicago during the Great Depression. Her father lost the family store in the Depression, and was lucky enough to find work at the Chicago stock yards. Growing up without a mother, Jane and her older sister, Elsie, often raised themselves throughout the Depression, but Jane insisted that, as children, they never knew they were poor. When World War II broke out, Jane and Elsie were already in middle school and in high school by the time it ended. They easily remembered their father yelling at the radio in disgust when Hitler invaded his native Austria. The girls were brought up to be patriotic. They would recall going hunting for rubber from the inside of bucket lids to sell for the war effort. It helped the American soldiers and raised extra money for the family.
In the late 1940s, Jane attended college at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She earned several certificates in typing and shorthand, suitable work for a woman in those days. When she attended school, she lived in the Blackstone apartments for single women and rode the L train to work and school. One of her early jobs included working for Western Union. Jane never forgot her chance encounter with Frank Sinatra when he came up to her Western Union window. Old Blue Eyes had been a big hit with the ladies wherever he went. Jane went on to work as a payroll bookkeeper at the Elgin Watch Company. She made many friends at her various jobs. She wrote hundreds of Christmas cards out every year to people she met throughout her life.
On July 16, 1955, she married Danish immigrant Emanuel J. Lark. The couple was married for over 55 years, until Emil’s death in 2011. The couple had three children: Karen, Jeanne and Jim. The family lived in Elgin, Ill., until 1980. Throughout the 1970s, Jane practiced real estate. It was through her job as a real estate agent that Jane discovered a motel for sale in Red Lodge, Mont. In 1980, Jane, Emil and Jim moved there to own their first motel. They bought another motel in Idaho, before selling both properties and moving to Laguna Heights, Texas, in 1988 for another motel property. In 1993, they moved one last time. The Lark family purchased the Oak Ridge Lodge in Pagosa Springs, Colo., in June 1993. They owned this property until Jane and Emil retired to their lakefront home on Beaver Circle in 2001.This was their dream house where they could finally enjoy peace and quiet.
Jane was preceded in death by her husband, Emanuel Jensen Lark; her sister, Elsie Prinner; and her eldest daughter, Karen Elizabeth Jensen Lark. She is survived by her daughter, Jeanne M. Wilkins (Ross); her son, Jim A. Lark (Gregoria); and her five granddaughters: Megan A. Addington (Bradley), Gwendolyon E. Jerkins, Brianna D. Camarato (Jason), of Virginia Beach, Va., Amber V. Jensen Lark, and Aimee R. Jensen Lark, of Pagosa Springs.
A memorial service honoring Jane’s life will be held on Nov. 9 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in downtown Pagosa Springs at 10 a.m. All who wish to come to pay their respects are welcome.