A Tribute of Honor: Jane Lewis Rectenwald


Jane Rectenwald was a lovely, brilliant, strong, and tenacious woman. Nothing stopped her from striving to achieve what is best for Montana and particularly in the realm of Election Integrity. In fact, Jane was the President of the Montana Election Integrity Project which (along with the help of many others) helped to expose election fraud in the state of Montana. To read and learn more about MEIP click here.

As you read the following obituary with highlights from Jane’s life please take a few moments to reflect on how beautiful a person she was and all she accomplished for our beloved state.

Jane Lewis Rectenwald

“Jane Lewis Rectenwald died on January 5, 2024 at her Missoula, MT home where she had lived for 29 years. She was 76. With her was her devoted friend Francis Weigand. After suffering a stroke on August 8, 2023, Jane never fully recovered. Her sister Ann shared laughter, tears and memories with Jane in the past five months which were treasured by both.

Born on Long Island, NY and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Jane earned a B.A. in English from Northwestern University in 1969. After living in Chicago and working at the Northwestern Astronomy Lab for a year following graduation, she decided to go West, with no particular destination in mind. She exited I-90 in Missoula on a University of Montana homecoming weekend, booked a room at the Florence Hotel, met some local young people and decided to stay.

Smart and engaging, Jane had a unique ability to connect with people of all ages. An early acquaintance with the David and Frances Maclay Family of Missoula grew to a community with many life-long friendships. Jane enthusiastically enhanced the lives of her friends. She devoted time to join adventures, provide companionship, celebrate milestones and accompany her friends on their life journeys.

In the early 1970’s Jane lived in an isolated, primitive cabin perched at the edge of Lolo Creek while working as a regional representative of the Montana Girl Scouts. After a few years, Jane returned to Pittsburgh, worked as a buyer of locomotives and fire engines for U.S. Steel, and earned an MBA at the University of Pittsburgh. Subsequently, she went on to create innovative techniques for marketing legal services at Reed Smith, a prominent law firm in Pittsburgh. But, her heart was in Missoula and she moved back in 1995.

Jane learned candy making from a retired Dean of Women at the University of Pittsburgh. She opened a licensed candy kitchen in her home in 1997 to start and operate Jane’s Montana Chocolates, “Beyond the Plain.” Jane’s chocolates were exceptional; her fabulous almond toffee was enjoyed by people across the country.

Jane’s sense of fun spawned her ‘Jane Party’ and only people named ‘Jane’ were invited. There were 35 guests who ranged in ages from 8 to 82 from around Western Montana. To brighten winter her elaborate annual celebration of Ground Hog Day was a sought after invitation.

Always attentive to details and a stickler for government accountability, Jane called community attention to the unfulfilled commitment by the City of Missoula to build and operate a new swimming pool, as required by a voter-approved bond issue. Through her determination and perseverance in face of local government opposition, the pool was built and opened in 2007.

In recent years Jane became an energetic advocate for election integrity in Missoula County and throughout Montana, establishing the Montana Election Integrity Project. Her interest in government led her to organize and lead a U.S. Constitution Study Group sponsored by Hillsdale College.

Jane is survived by her sister, Ann Hoaglin (Thomas) of Columbus, OH; her brother, William May (JeRaye) of Austin, TX; several nieces and nephews; her dear friend, Francis Weigand of Missoula, MT; and many, many friends across Montana. Her family is very grateful for Francis Weigand and his tender caring for Jane and for Hestia Hospice’s gentle presence.

A celebration of Jane’s life will be held later in the spring. Messages to Jane’s family may be sent to ahoaglin@me.com. Contributions in her memory may be made to a scholarship fund established by Jane at Hillsdale College. The Philippians 4:8 Endowed Scholarship was near and dear to her heart. (Institutional Advancement, Philippians 4:8 Endowed Scholarship Fund, Hillsdale College, 33 E. College St., Hillsdale, MI 49242) or a charity of your choice.

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

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