Hawthorne mourns loss of 'mover and shaker' Jane Segal

This undated photo provided by Jane Segal's family shows her enjoying a swing. Segal, a civic leader in Hawthorne, has died at age 83.

Courtesy photo
Published: Monday, July 8, 2013 at 3:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 8, 2013 at 3:42 p.m.

Small towns need someone like Jane Segal to make things happen, says Bonita Dewilby-Moore.

Segal, who died on July 4 at age 83, spearheaded efforts to create the Hawthorne Historical Museum and Cultural Center and finish the eastern leg of the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail while serving as president of the Hawthorne Area Chamber of Commerce for 11 years.

“She just had this wonderful attitude about tackling anything,” said Dewilby-Moore, who took over management of the museum as Segal’s health deteriorated.

“She loved people. That was her greatest asset because people knew that and responded to her in positive ways.”

Segal was working as a real estate broker in South Florida when she and her late husband, Bob, bought a lake house in Hawthorne for weekend visits while daughter Ruth attended the University of Florida. In a 2001 interview, Segal told The Sun she fell in love with their house, the area and the people of Hawthorne, so they moved there for good in 1985.

Segal opened Country Lakes Real Estate in Hawthorne and Lakeside Realty in Melrose. She led the Hawthorne Chamber from 1991 to 2002, with membership growing from 11 members to more than 60 during her tenure.

As chairwoman of the Hawthorne Area Revitalization Campaign, she led the effort to establish the Hawthorne Historical Museum and Cultural Center, securing a grant after three visits to Tallahassee to move and renovate the New Hope United Methodist Church building, circa 1907. The museum opened in 2002.

For her work, she was named to the Eckerd 100, a national honor roll of outstanding female volunteers. At the time, Segal said she had always been “an instigator, a promoter, a mover and a shaker.”

Ruth Segal, a Gainesville Realtor who got her start in her mother’s business, said her mother was an advocate for human rights, conservation and animal issues.

Jane Segal was a life member of the Friends of Paynes Prairie and traveled to Tallahassee to support the Putnam Land Conservancy’s grant application to purchase the Little Orange Creek Nature Park.

Ruth said her mother was very open minded — a modern woman who was ahead of her time.

“It was very cool being her daughter because there was nothing that freaked her out,” Ruth Segal said.

Jane Segal was raised by her grandmother on the outskirts of New York City. At 20, she began working as promotions director at Seventeen magazine, a job she held for 12 years. Ruth said her mother was recognized for her philanthropy for a program to take underprivileged kids to the beach.

“Even at 20, she was already running around helping people,” she said.

A celebration of her life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Hawthorne, 22027 SE 65th Ave.

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