Obituary of Jane A Wittmeyer
The world lost a brilliant mind, engaging smile and adventurous spirit with the passing of Jane A Wittmeyer on Wednesday October 25. Jane passed away due to complications from a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s. Even though she suffered from this horrible disease, her zest for life continued with enjoying rides in the country, walks with her family and having stories about the great outdoors read to her.
Jane was born in Kansas City and raised in Platte City Missouri. Following graduation from Platte City High School in 1973, Jane continued her education by attending Kansas State University. She excelled as a student, earning her BS degree in Horticulture. Following graduation from KSU, Jane joined the 4-H National Young Agricultural Specialist Exchange Program as an exchange student in the Soviet Union or as she referred to it, Soviet occupied Russia.
Jane continued with her education by earning an MBA in International Relations from George Washington University in Washington DC and PhD (ABD) from Virginia Tech University. Jane also completed the Senior Managers in Government courses at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the Library of Congress Congressional Staff Training courses, and was named as a Stennis Fellow in the Senior Congressional Staff Program. As a part of her MBA program, Jane was able to study in Japan at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Public Policy.
Jane also excelled at athletics having been twice named an All-American while at KSU as a distance competitor. Her athletic abilities continued throughout her life as an avid snow skier, kayaker, Robie Creek participant and earning her second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Growing up in the Midwest, Jane had a dream of living in the Rocky Mountains, so when an opportunity to move to Idaho with a position with FHA in Weiser, Idaho came about, she jumped at the opportunity. As a way of meeting more people with similar interests Jane helped form the first Young Republicans chapter in Payette County. It was this experience that started her on a career in politics.
Her political career began in staff constituent services for Senator Steve Symms. After six months on the Senator’s staff her abilities were noticed, and she began a six-year stint as a senior policy advisor for Agricultural and Natural Resources for Senator Jim McClure. During the Bush presidency in the 1990’s Jane served as the Deputy manager of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation at the USDA. After the election of President Clinton, Jane moved back to being a Congressional staffer and managed the Washington DC office for Congressman Mike Crapo.
Figuring those thirteen years in Washington DC was enough, Jane accepted a position as the Idaho state lobbyist for the Northwest Timber Association, where she worked for seven years before leaving to form her own Public Affairs firm – Wittmeyer and Associates. As a lobbyist Jane represented the private sector in areas of natural resources, wildfire management, food processing, education and general business. Jane served as President of that group until her retirement in 2019.
Jane strongly believed that everyone should give back to their community and she followed that belief. Jane taught Sunday School at Our Lady of Rosary in Boise. She also served on the Board of Directors with the Jesse Tree Foundation and with the Idaho Red Cross. All this activity was noticed, and Jane was named as a recipient of the Idaho Business Reviews Women of the Year in 2006.
In Jane’s first marriage, they adopted two babies from South Korea. As with most things Jane jumped head-first into becoming a part of the Boise Korean community. She made countless friends within that group by assisting the members in acclimating into the Idaho business community and volunteering at a local Korean Church food pantry. She even learned the intricate processes of making Kim Chi.
In 2012 Jane married long-time friend Brent Olmstead. Together they formed a loving family with five children. Both Jane and Brent enjoy travel so together they spent time in Ghana Africa, South Korea, Mexico and numerous countries in Europe. The favorite being Spain, Barcelona in particular. Jane was very proud that she was able to visit all 50 states during her lifetime.
Unfortunately, in 2017, Jane was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and the quality of life began to diminish. Even with this diagnosis, Jane continued to display a bright attitude about life, love and family. She participated in many family events, even bringing extended family members to Idaho to run the main fork of the Salmon River. She continued to enjoy the simple things such as hiking in the Boise Foothills, going to the Farmer’s Market, and driving around the agricultural areas of Idaho learning about new innovative farming technologies. Her interest in Agriculture was rewarded in 2018 when she received the Dean’s Award from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho.
In 2022, Jane’s affliction had progressed to the point that she had to move into a long-term care home. While at The Terraces of Boise, she quickly made friends with staff and residents alike. She particularly enjoyed the Horticulture program that allowed her to continue to get her hands dirty playing in the garden.
Jane was preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Lucy Wittmeyer and a sister Julie Wittmeyer. She is survived by her husband Brent Olmstead, son Tyler Gorsuch (Eugene Oregon), daughter Katie Gorsuch (Boise), Stepsons Jacob Olmstead (Amanda) of Beaverton Oregon, Berkley Olmstead of Boise and Murphy Olmstead of Boise. Jane’s loving siblings include John Wittmeyer (Susan) of Statham, Georgia, Mary Andra (Don) of Birmingham Alabama and Mark Wittmeyer (Pam) of Platte City, Missouri.
Services for Jane will include a Rosary on November 10th from 4:30 PM to5:30 pm followed by a visistation until 6 PM at St. Mary’s Catholic Parish, 2612 W State St in Boise. A funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday November 11 also at St. Mary’s. There will be a reception following the Mass.
The family would like to thank the Huntsman Neurology Unit at the University of Utah for their assistance and advice. The care that Jane received while at The Terraces of Boise is greatly appreciated by the entire family. The staff there have become members of our family.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made in Jane’s name to the Jesse Tree Foundation of Boise and to the Idaho Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
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