On a Thursday in February 1980, English couple Mark Smith and Kay Lund were facing a dilemma: Smith was about to overstay his tourist visa while visiting Lund, a postdoctoral fellow in Joel Habener, MD’s Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology.
It is with tremendous sadness we share that Jane Claflin—a longtime member of the Ladies Visiting Committee and honorary member of the Massachusetts General Hospital Board of Trustees—died April 6 at the age of 103.
Jane was a loyal and steadfast advocate and supporter of Mass General, of women in academic medicine and of philanthropy, and she leaves behind her a long-lasting legacy at Mass General—including the creation of the Women in Academic Medicine Committee, the Office for Women’s Careers, the hospital’s Backup Child Care Center and the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards.
Jane first became involved with the hospital in the late 1950s when she joined the Ladies Visiting Committee. In 1961 she was elected chairman of the organization, and in 1971 she also became the chairman of the Volunteer Service Committee. Jane served as an Mass General Trustee—the first female trustee—from 1973 to 1989 and then became an Honorary Trustee.
Jane was a constant champion of fate of women in academic medicine, and she brought many wonderful programs to Mass General as a result. In 1993, the Women in Academic Medicine Committee—originally chaired by Claflin—was established to help support the academic careers of women in science at Mass General. Recognizing the obstacles women researchers face during their child-rearing years, this committee, along with the sponsorship of the Executive Committee on Research, established the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards in 1997 in honor of Claflin. For most of her life, Jane remained deeply involved and interested in the success of these women Scholars, dedicating a yearly lunch to catch up with them. The hospital’s Office for Women’s Careers, as well as the Backup Child Care Center, also stemmed from Jane’s fervent dedication to women in medicine.
What Jane cared about most was the heart and soul of the hospital, and she always did whatever was needed to better the hospital during her time as a volunteer, and throughout the years. She really saw the needs of the hospital and she passionately cared about seeing things through for the hospital that cost money. For nearly 50 years, she raised millions of dollars in charitable gifts for hospital facilities, people and programs.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Jane’s sons and daughters-in-laws—Thomas and Rachel Claflin, and Robert and Kyri Claflin—four grandchildren and their spouses, three step-grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, eight step-great grandchildren and six nieces and nephews. A memorial service to celebrate her long life will take place when the current restrictions upon such gatherings are no longer necessary.
Her impact on this hospital, and on the greater Mass General community, will be long remembered throughout the next 103 years, and beyond. She was a great lady and a remarkable moving force during all the years she dedicated to serving the hospital. We invite you to visit Jane’s In Memoriam page on Apollo, and to read this touching tribute, to learn more about her countless contributions and share your memories and stories.
Peter L. Slavin, MD
Mass General President
Timothy G. Ferris, MD
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