Jane Sinsheimer Kohn, aka "Gaga" to her beloved grandchildren and great grands, passed away at her home in Indianapolis at the age of 98 on March 22. She was born to Arthur Sinsheimer and Beatrix Hirsch Sinsheimer in Brooklyn, NY on May 26, 1921; and although she lived in Indianapolis for 74 years, she was always a New Yorker at heart. The New Yorker subscriptions were renewed every year for all of her children and grandchildren and it was a rare day that she wasn't working on the NY Times crossword puzzle.
Following her graduation from Goucher College in Baltimore, at the outbreak of World War II, Jane became a lieutenant in the Coast Guard stationed in Miami and Key West, FL and Alameda, CA. Still in uniform in 1943, she married Burton Beekman Kohn, who was later stationed in Guadalcanal as a Navy Seabee. Their twin daughters were born in Oakland, California. After their discharge from the military, they moved to Indianapolis, Ind. where Burt had been employed prior to the war by Freeman Store Equipment Company. Their next two children were born in Indy.
Burt later supported the family as a store designer/architect running his own business, while Jane found her time filled with raising their four children.
Jane volunteered at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) for 40 years in the rental gallery, cutting gardens and horticulture library. A strong sense of social justice made her a life long Democrat.
Her father taught her to keep score at Brooklyn Dodgers' games and she passed on that love of baseball to all of her children. She was an avid reader, was a supporter of the Indianapolis Symphony, and knew and loved the Broadway musicals, composers (Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter) and performers (Ella Fitzerald, Bobby Short) of her era.
Jane was practically an institution to all who knew her, her wise words, wit, and critiques color all of her children's views of the world. She served as a model of a determined, curious, intelligent and stylish woman for all who knew her.
She steered her children towards music, gardening, art and especially cooking. Travel intrigued her starting with exposure to the National Geographic. She loved maps and learning about other cultures. Her creativity led her to construct a wifi system, knit elaborate Irish fisherman sweaters, needlepoint wall hangings and pillows and rug making.
She and Burt were active members of the Indianapolis Sailing Club where they sailed a Thistle from 1954 to 1973 before moving on to bigger boats and bigger adventures on board their double-ender Westsail ocean cruising boat the Jabberwock. They sailed for six months in 1975 and '76 from San Diego to Florida passing through the Panama Canal; encountering thieves, squalls, equipment failures and of course thrilling adventures.
After 61 years of marriage, Burton died in 2004 at age 91 while they were living in a house he designed on Lake Maxinhall. Jane was also preceded in death by her sister Joyce Ottenheimer of Baltimore and Florida.
Jane is survived by her loving children, Laurie Kohn Steele (Rick) of San Francisco and Sonoma, Peggy Kohn Glass (Len) of Boston, Nancy Beth Kohn of Indianapolis and Boston, Arthur Alexander Kohn (Cilla Laula) of Charlotte and Mackinaw City; 5 grandchildren, Adam Glass (Lesley Beatty), Rebecca Glass (David Forst), Noah Glass (Maeve Herbert), Alexander Steele, Oliver Steele; and 5 great-grandchildren - to whom she was devoted. She also leaves behind Becky Johnson her loving and loyal cook/caregiver of many years. We all want to express our deep appreciation to Brookdale Hospice and their many staff who supported Jane and us in her final months. And especially to Rachel who brought her music to brighten the last few months.
Arrangements entrusted to A.R.N. Funeral & Cremation Services. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Jane's favorite causes: the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Ensemble Music Society, or Common Cause.
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