We extend our profound condolences to the family of our dear friend and advisor Jane-Kerin Moffat who passed away in December at the age of 90. It is undeniable that our organization exists today thanks to her volunteer contributions as an effective and vocal environmentalist. In the 1980s, back when the 23-acre Jay Estate was slated for demolition, Jane-Kerin played an integral role; she rallied conservation-minded stakeholders, government officials and the public to protest a plan for development that would have had dire impacts on local wildlife. Together with a small core of dedicated women, Jane-Kerin brought an educator’s skill set of consensus-building and patience to the table. Motivated to protect the integrity of the neighboring Marshlands Conservancy and the waters of Long Island Sound, she helped galvanize the Jay Coalition, a group of 65 environmental and historic organizations that included many Audubon chapters and the Sierra Club. In 1992, after a 13-year struggle, efforts by Jane-Kerin and the Jay Coalition to landmark the Jay Estate and keep it intact succeeded. It was then that the real work of the Jay Heritage Center began.
As a direct descendant of jurist and peacemaker John Jay who grew up at the property, Jane-Kerin was also part of another notable coalition represented by generations of civic-minded relatives, lawmakers and diplomats that included her father Abbot Low Moffat. Her advocacy for our park continued long after it was originally saved, anchored by those familial ties to the estate. Jane-Kerin stood by our side as we reinvigorated our partnerships with New York State Parks and Audubon, taking on the task of reimagining the historic Jay landscape, its gardens, viewshed and meadow in a sustainable way. She made follow-up visits in recent years to see how dreams for a healthy, public green space were finally being realized. Cheering us on in all our endeavors, she attended family reunions, garden history exhibits and educational programs at the Jay Mansion and the Carriage House. In 2018 she came to a talk by Doug Tallamy that emphasized the importance of planting native trees to support birds and pollinators. Afterwards, Jane-Kerin wrote to request a link to the video for herself and to share with friends. It was so packed with thought and information—and humor— that I think I could see/hear it at least 5 to 10 times more, and discover meaningful new stuff each time, and still not take it all in. Learning was a life-long pursuit for Jane-Kerin and we were extraordinarily lucky to have her as a mentor.
We are forever indebted to Jane and her vision of the Jay Estate as a forum for people to come together and exchange ideas about protecting our fragile ecosystems and irreplaceable resources. We will miss her intellect, animated conversations about genealogy and history, her graceful determination, humor and generosity of spirit.
Jane-Kerin Moffat will be interred at the Jay Family Cemetery in the spring of 2022. A ceremony of celebration and remembrance will be held at that time.
Donations in her memory may be made to the National Audubon Society at 225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, https://act.audubon.org. Notes and condolences may be addressed to her sister Nancy Lifland at 900 Hollinshead Spring Road, F-202, Skillman, NJ 08558.