A life of family, work, and helping others
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | April 12,2013
Photo by Christine Meola
Mary Jane Outslay, center front, is shown in a photo which hangs at A Crust Above pizza on Woodstock Avenue. She is surrounded by her husband Merrill, left front, and her children and grandchildren.
At the age of 71, Mary Jane Outslay spent her days working multiple jobs while trying to look out for her children and her children’s children.
And she couldn’t have been happier.
“She was an extremely hard worker who was generous with her time and compassionate to others,” her youngest son, Gregor Outslay, said Thursday.
Mary Jane, who preferred to be called Jane — a mother of five, grandmother of eight, nurse, wife and co-owner of A Crust Above pizza on Woodstock Avenue in Rutland — was killed Wednesday night by a driver who struck her as she walked across Strongs Avenue in the heart of the city’s downtown.
The driver didn’t stop, leaving the Mendon woman in the street where witnesses rushed to her aid. Despite the efforts of paramedics, Jane Outslay was pronounced dead shortly after the 8 p.m. incident.
Gregor said Thursday his mother’s visit to Rutland on Wednesday night was part of her weekly routine of going to dinner with a friend. She was leaving The Palms restaurant with her friend when she was struck.
Her loss was felt throughout a broad community Thursday as neighbors, friends, co-workers and customers came to grips with the loss of a woman described by one former nursing colleague as “invincible.”
“It’s such a shock,” said Jane Charron, former director of nursing at the Genesis senior care home where Jane worked as a head nurse for years. “She was very much the leader, very much in charge and very much in focus. ... ‘The General’ is what I called her.”
According to her son and her husband, Merrill — the couple would have celebrated 50 years of marriage this year — Jane needed to be in charge to govern her home and three sons, who rose to great heights in athletic programs at Mount St. Joseph Academy and who also rang up huge grocery bills each week.
“I remember going grocery shopping and we would be pushing two full carts through the checkout,” Gregor said.
A good work ethic and family devotion were values that her family said she learned early, growing up on a farm in New Jersey.
After she and Merrill married, Jane earned her nursing degree at Cornell University in New York. She worked in the medical field and in a family landscaping business while starting a family.
That trend continued after the family came to Vermont in 1989. A few years after they arrived, the family opened their pizza parlor, A Crust Above, in Killington. Eventually it moved to its present location in Rutland.
For years, Jane started her days arriving at the restaurant at 7:30 a.m. — without exception, according to longtime employee Rachel Hilske.
“A few weeks ago she was out sick a couple days and she said that was the first time in 34 years that she had missed a day,” Hilske said.
Jane also worked at a variety of doctors’ offices and nursing homes in the community, including The Gables, where she continued to work about 12 hours a week as registered nurse coordinator for that facility.
“She was as committed a person to the care of the elderly as anyone I’ve ever met,” said Jay Grimes, executive director at The Gables in Rutland. “She treated people not only well but as their peers. She was the type of nurse that if we were down an aide, she would get her work done then work alongside the aides to help them. We’re obviously devastated up here today.”
At the family restaurant where friends and neighbors stopped by to offer Gregor and Merrill their condolences Thursday, the loss was palpable as well. But any anger toward the driver who struck her was measured.
Gregor said whatever happens to the driver, it won’t bring his mother back.
“The only thing I can think is that someone wasn’t in their right mind,” he said.
Gregor and his father preferred to remember Jane’s quick wit, her smile, and her passion for reading mysteries and growing things in her garden.
“She wouldn’t want us to sit around moping,” Gregor said. “Grief is good, but it’s unproductive. She would want us to get off our butts.”