Profile printed in GSUSA Development Dept newsletter, October 2007
Jane Nicolette was 9 and a half years old when her mother agreed to be and assistant leader for the first Girl Scout troop at Riverdale elementary school that Fall of 1931. Jane loved everything about the troop and the Girl Scouts and thought the hardest thing was waiting until she was 10 to be able to wear the green uniform and the gold trefoil pin and then the seemingly eternity it took to turn 12 so that she could attend Camp May Flather.
It was just the beginning of a life long commitment: to be prepared, do your best, learn new skills and help people that has lead Jane Nicolette Toal in her 75 plus years in Girl Scouting. As a teenager she joined Lucy Knox’s troop which was the first to be registered under the brand new Senior Girl Scout Program. With Ms. Knox and her various contacts, Jane and her troop mate were the first to camp at the NEW Camp Rockwood in 1937, as they spent the night on the floor in sleeping bags after reupholstering the furniture for camp use. Also, a high point was preparing and serving a meal to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at the Girl Scouts headquarter know as ‘The Little House” near what is now the US Department of the Interior. On Jun 10, 1939 Jane was awarded the highest rank in Girl Scouting – the “Golden Eaglet”.
Jane was an avid camper, who assisted in putting out the camp paper the Mountain Log, she attend May Flather as a camper from 1933 until 1940, starting out as a young camper in Boone unit, moving for some years to Sherando and finally to the new Wallowta –Senior unit high on the ridge over camp, - to which all, equipment, food and water had to be hand carried! Jane and her campmate have remain close friends, to this day even as some have passed on always remembering and laughing at often repeated stories.
Jane also learned to stick to a task towards excellence – she studied at Oberlin College, graduating and the taking a Masters in Biochemistry at Cornell University medical facilities in NYC. Her first job was as a researcher at Rutgers University and with the first job – she also became a leader of an Intermediate Girl Scout troop near campus.
She returned to Washington DC in 1947 to take a position as a research scientist at the National Institute of Health and began a distinguished career that spanned almost thirty years.
In 1950, Jane wanted to do something new – she wanted to learn to sail and own a boat. She bought the boat, signed up for classes and learned that a Girl Scout troop was also starting a “Mariner” troop at the same place – so she became an Assistant leader - … and for the next 27 years – she made it possible for hundreds of teenage girls to learn to sail, race, handle boats and live on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay as well as strive to excel in scouting, school and life – never being told they could not accomplish anything they were willing to work towards.
Jane continues to serve Girl Scouting and GSCNC as a long time member of the Archives Committee, director of the photography and ephemera collection. Always striving to excel, she has signed up for senior citzen classes in computer programs – learning to digitally scan photos and documents to better preserve and organize the collection.
Jane said the from the very first time in the troop meeting that she learned the song “Peace of the River” it set her on a life long quest in Girl Scouting and life that has never failed.
“Peace I ask of thee, oh river
Peace, peace, peace
When I learn to live serenely
Cares will cease
From the hills I gather courage
Visions of the days to be
Strength to lead and faith to follow
All are given unto me.”
Obituary August 2017 Washington Post, Legacy.com etc
Jane Nicolet Toal, 96, of Annapolis and formerly Riverdale, Maryland, died peacefully on August 14, 2017 at Assisted Living Well in Severna Park, Maryland, where she resided during her last years. Born on July 31, 1921 in Pittsburgh, PA, she was the elder of two children of Kathryn Hasley Nicolet and Ben H. Nicolet (both deceased). Jane earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Pre-Medical Studies in 1943 at Oberlin College, in Ohio, and obtained her Master of Science degree in Chemistry at Cornell University Medical School in New York City. She had a productive career working for over 30 years as a chemist. She was employed briefly (1946-47) at the Rutgers University Bureau of Biology in New Jersey before returning to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to join the professional staff at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda. From 1947 until 1977, she worked on structural studies of RNA and DNA at NIH's Department of Biology and its Cancer Institute. Although Jane found her professional work intellectually challenging, she actively pursued many other interests. Chief among them were horses and horseback riding. Jane was an early member of the Iron Bridge Hunt (Laurel, MD) and served as "Whipper-In" for Iron Bridge from 1962 until 1986 when the Iron Bridge Hunt merged with the Howard County Hunt. Jane remained active with the Howard County Hunt until nearly age 90, remaining until the time of her death an Emeritus Member of that group. Jane was an active member of Trail Riders of Today (TROT), a trail riding association sponsoring recreational horseback riding and the volunteerism necessary to support the sport, the League of Maryland Horsemen and the Maryland Horse Council. In 2010, Jane received the Pumphrey Memorial Reward for volunteerism, recognizing her nearly 50 years of service to the sport of Maryland trail riding. Jane devoted a large part of her life to the Girl Scouts of America (GSA). Jane's membership in GSA began with the Washington, D.C. Chapter. She obtained "Golden Eaglet" status in 1939 upon graduation from high school. After her college and graduate school years, she renewed her active Girl Scout ties by associating with the Mariner Girl Scout Troop of Bethesda, serving as Leader of that troop from 1964-1977. Jane was also a longtime Member of the National Carousel Association, a group formed for the purpose of learning about, enjoying and preserving America's historic carousels. This membership enabled Jane's interests in horses and the Girl Scouts to intersect. Every Spring until approximately age 90, Jane was in charge of the Girl Scout volunteers who performed the annual "Polishing of the Brass" of the historic Glen Echo Carousel and its beautifully carved horses and other animals. Jane loved to ride the carousel horses almost as much as she loved riding real horses. Jane made friends everywhere ad she would be the first to say that they rounded out her life. Jane lived as an extension of the Girl Scout Song which encouraged Scouts to "make new friends, but keep the old--one is silver and the other is gold." She also kept the Girl Scout Slogan "do a good turn daily' close to her heart. Married briefly in her early years, she had no children. Jane is survived by a sister, Nancy Nicolet Vineberg of Carmel, CA; and a niece, Dr. Susan Vineberg of Detroit, MI. Jane also leaves behind an extended family including Tracey Kirchoff (husband Brian) of Severna Park, MD, and numerous cousins and friends. A Memorial Visitation will be held on Sunday, August 27, 2017 from 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm at Barranco & Sons, P.A. Severna Park Funeral Home, 495 Ritchie Hwy, Severna Park, MD 21146.