On the last day of school, Jane Grumbine used to tell her first-grade students in Palmyra, Pa., that everybody would be in the second grade come September. With one exception. Eventually, one of her sharpies would figure it out and shout: “It’s you, Mrs. Grumbine.”
Jane Light Grumbine, 87, who passed away Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, was an institution in the Palmyra Area School District. She taught first-graders for 40 years, mostly at Pine Street Elementary, until retiring in 1993. Her dying wish was that everyone should do something nice for a child.
Jane’s favorite memories as a teacher did not come in the classroom, but in her kitchen. Each December, she invited her students to bake Christmas cookies in her home. Most of the Hummel figurines in her extensive collection were gifts from students.
Over the decades, Jane all but permanently stained her fingers with mimeograph fluid and spent too much of her nest egg on gold stars. Nonetheless, she relished all the young lives she touched with her emphasis on teaching the basics and self-discipline but making it fun for the kids. She felt pride when former students became doctors, lawyers or small-business owners – and when former students asked the principal to have their children placed in Jane’s first-grade classroom.
Jane was born Sunday, March 22, 1931 in Annville to the late Harrison (Ike) and Hazel (Worthington) Light. She died peacefully at Elmcroft Senior Living Community in North Cornwall Township, where she had resided for eight years and had remained active until her health declined over the summer. She is survived by her daughter, Beth G. Myers, and husband Gene of Canton, Mich.; by a brother, Ken Light, and wife Sara of Salt Lake City, Utah; and by her granddog, Morgan from Michigan. She was predeceased in 2011 by her loving husband of 55 years, Charles A. Grumbine, and in 1998 by her son, Keith C. Grumbine.
Jane graduated from Palmyra High School in 1949, West Chester State Teachers College in 1953 and Penn State University with a master’s degree in elementary education and social studies. As a senior at Palmyra High, she was the female recipient of the VFW Post 6417 citizenship medal. She was a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Palmyra, where she served for years on the consistory, taught Sunday school and sang in the choir. She also was a member of University Women, PSEA Retired and NEA Retired.
Jane’s family moved from Annville to Palmyra when she was a child, settling three houses away from Charlie Grumbine, the one-year-older boy she would marry in 1955. Charlie became the best friend of Jane’s late brother, Harrison (Ike) Light, and a high school social studies teacher after serving in the Korean Conflict. They had a house built on Maple Street, just around the corner from their childhood homes on Cherry Street and a half-mile from Pine Street Elementary.
When Jane was 12 years old, she worked for the Rothermel family, caring for three small children during the summer and evenings during the school year. The Rothermels, who owned a funeral home, became like a second family to Jane.
In retirement, Jane battled a seemingly endless series of health issues. Still, she insisted on continuously sharpening her mind. She solved thousands of word puzzles and searches, utilized her atlas and almanacs to look up countries and factoids, and challenged herself to memorize all the first ladies or state capitals or some other such thing, plus an interesting tidbit on each one.
At Elmcroft, although burdened by severely failing eyesight, Jane was known for her keen mind and knowledge of current events, for greeting and assisting every new resident, and for doing laps and laps around the hallways with her walker. She also was a representative of the state-run PEER program – Pennsylvania’s Empowered Expert Residents – that trained select long-term care residents on how to address concerns within their facilities and to give a voice to fellow residents.
Family and friends are invited to attend a viewing on Friday, October 5, 2018 from 9-11 a.m. at Rothermel-Finkenbinder Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc., 25 W. Pine Street, Palmyra, PA 17078. Graveside services will follow at 11:30 a.m. at Grand View Memorial Park, 500 N. Weber Street, Annville, PA, 17003 with the Rev. Donté Jones of Trinity UCC, Palmyra, officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Palmyra Public Library, 50 Landings Dr., Suite B, Annville, PA 17003. All donations will be used to purchase children’s books, to help keep Jane’s love of reading alive for Palmyra’s next generation.
Memories and condolences may be shared at: www.FinkenbinderFamily.com
Palmyra Public Library
50 Landings Dr., Suite B, Annville PA 17003