Gratitude tempers sadness at loss of Jane Golub

Philanthropist and community leader leaves Capital Region a better place
Jane Golub plays guitar and sings along with kids from Niskayuna’s Hillside Elementary School area in July 1967.
Jane Golub plays guitar and sings along with kids from Niskayuna’s Hillside Elementary School area in July 1967.

NISKAYUNA — Jane Golub spent much of her life improving her community and helping its people, and her passing Tuesday was felt keenly.

Tributes poured in from many quarters, with equal measures sadness at her loss and admiration for all she accomplished in her 80 years as a wife, mother, schoolteacher, community leader and philanthropist. 

But perhaps more than any other emotion, there was gratitude.

Hospitals, the downtown performing arts center, a science museum, a century-old old nursery school, school campaigns against bigotry, an organization to empower girls — all these and many more have benefited from decades of tireless effort by Jane Golub and her husband, Neil, a team for more than half a century in life and in community activism.

They were seldom apart for long after Neil completed his military service, and they were together on a vacation in California when Jane suddenly took ill three weeks ago. He and their daughter, Mona Golub, were with her when she died Tuesday in a Los Angeles hospital.

“We supported each other, we loved each other, we were always together,” Neil said Wednesday.

Jane was born and raised in New York City. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a master’s in elementary education from SUNY Oneonta.

Neil believes that community service was always in his and Jane’s DNA, but their partnership doing it together began to form when her cousin Marilyn of Albany got married in 1961. Jane was the maid of honor; the groom, Howard Marwill, asked his friend Neil if he would be her date for the party. He said he would.

On June 2, 1963, it was Neil and Jane’s turn to walk down the aisle.

Also in 1963, she began teaching at the brand-new Hillside Elementary School in Niskayuna, the town where she would live the rest of her life.

Parents wrangled to get their kids into her class, Neil recalled, and years after she retired from teaching, former pupils were still happy to see her when their paths crossed in public.

“There isn’t a month that goes by that we don’t run into one of her kids,” he said.

She took a leave of absence in 1986 to help develop the prejudice awareness and reduction program “World of Difference” with the Anti-Defamation League for Capital Region schools, then to spread it statewide, then to get it taught not just in upper grades but in elementary school, because that’s where bigotry and hate begin to develop in children.

Neil said the effort was more a matter of right and wrong for Jane than of bitter experience — she hadn’t been subjected to anti-Semitism herself growing up.

Jane didn’t return to the classroom. She later held roles in the Golub Corporation and its Price Chopper/Market 32 supermarket chain, and moved further into philanthropy. That continued through her older years and despite back problems and cancer.

“She has continued to be the spark plug for so much that has gone on” in the community, Neil said. “She was the Energizer Bunny. When she showed up, everyone jumped to attention and said ‘let’s get going.’

“She gave of herself, she gave of her time, she gave of her energy, her brain, her leadership abilities.”

Flags were lowered to half staff Wednesday outside Bellevue and Ellis hospitals, which Neil and Jane have done so much to assist, and outside Town Hall in Niskayuna. Tributes poured in from community leaders and organizations that Jane Golub had helped over the years, including the ADL, Girls Inc., MiSci, Proctors and the Schenectady Day Nursery.

Gary McCarthy, mayor of Schenectady, said: “She was one that always wanted to make the community better and stronger and help people reach their full potential.”

Pam Cerrone, long-ago pupil of Jane and later a trustee of the Golub Foundation, said: “My heart is so sad that this wonderful, sassy, spirited lady is no longer here with us, but I see her love reflected in those she’s left behind.”


Mark Little, chairman of the Ellis board of trustees, said: “Our community has lost one of its great champions. Today, we honor Jane Golub’s lifetime of service to the community and remember an icon whose out-sized commitment to the Capital Region made this a better place to live.”

Jane had a particular fondness for the Schenectady Day Nursery, Neil said, and was involved with it for decades.

They also fought to keep Bellevue Woman’s Center open when it was facing state-ordered closure, helped raise funds for improvements at Bellevue and Ellis Hospital, boosted the Proctors restoration campaign, and helped transition the old Schenectady Museum into MiSci.

McCarthy especially remembers Jane’s work on behalf of MiSci because she’d always find him at the gala, as she made her rounds collecting donations.

“She always did it with a level of grace and dignity — everyone respected her,” he said.

“It’s a sad day for the family and the community.”

Jane Golub is survived by Neil; their only child, Mona; and their grandson, Ira.

A public funeral service with be held Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at Temple Gates of Heaven, where Neil and Jane were longtime members of the congregation.

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