Wilma Jane (Reynen) Suntken

Published 5:32 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

SCARBOROUGH, MAINE — Wilma Jane (Reynen) Suntken, 87, passed away on April 30, 2024, following complications from a fall. A Minnesota farm girl, Jane grew up in Hollandale surrounded by the love and faith of her parents, John and Pearl Reynen, as well as the boisterous antics of her seven brothers and sisters, all of whom worked the family potato farm. In 1958, she graduated from Central College in Pella, Iowa, with a double major in political science and math.

Two years later, Jane married, moved to New York City, and eventually to Montclair, New Jersey. In those years she raised her three children and served as the minister’s wife both at Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan and the Montclair Heights Reformed Church. She also went back to school at night and earned her master’s degree in early childhood education from Hunter College.

Jane’s teaching career spanned 34 years, 29 of those at Friends Seminary, a Quaker school in New York City, with her dear friend and colleague, Judith Anderson. Jane and Judy’s kindergarten class was legendary in Manhattan throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, and Jane’s leadership at Friends extended past the classroom. She assisted with admissions, served as acting Head of the Lower School, was elected to the Board of Trustees, and played a key role in forming the first teachers’ union in a private school in New York. She retired from classroom teaching in 2001 but continued to tutor young children until her 80th birthday.

Email newsletter signup

Post-retirement, Jane lived for a time in Iowa, but in 2019 moved to Maine to be near her children. She reveled in her new life in assisted living at Piper Shores, embracing all that Maine has to offer. She loved the annual family leaf-peeping trips and visiting Maine farms on Maine Maple Sunday. She biked to Higgins Beach with the help of Portland Wheelers. She volunteered for The Locker Project, packing bags for young children experiencing food insecurity. At Piper Shores, she was elected president of the assisted living residents’ council.

Jane was preceded in death by her husband, Larry Suntken, her parents, and six of her seven siblings. She is survived by her children: Brian Suntken of Hudson, Ohio; Stephanie (Jeffrey) Seidel of New Canaan, Connecticut; Elizabeth (Thomas) Murley of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; and her three grandchildren: William Seidel of New York City; Alexandra Seidel of Norwalk, Connecticut; and John Suntken of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Jane’s ashes will be interred in the Reynen family plot in her hometown of Hollandale. The family expresses its deep thanks to the entire assisted living staff at Piper Shores, who kept her safe throughout the pandemic, supplied her with endless chocolate chip cookies, grew her amaryllis flowers ever taller, and braided her long white hair every Friday into her signature style that drew compliments everywhere she went. You were not just a community to her; you were family. Thank you also to everyone at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House for their calm and loving support of the entire family in Jane’s last days.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Jane’s honor be made to Friends Seminary, www.friendsseminary.org/give.