Jane DeMary Stevenson Bockman, 96 years old, passed away on April 12, 2017 from complications after a fall.
For 30 years between 1966 and 1997 she performed as the Grandmother in The Nutcracker presented by the Chicago Tribune Charities at McCormick Place and the Opera House and never missed a performance. She did not perform in the initial 1965 season because she felt that at only 45 years old she was too young to play a grandmother.
She was born in Aurora, Illinois in October of 1920 to John Gault Stevenson and Viola Johnston. After graduating from West Aurora High School, class of 1938, she held several jobs including one at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.
She became interested in ballet after seeing a performance by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She did not start taking ballet lessons until in her 20s. In May, 1947 she started studying with a new teacher, Charles Bockman who had opened a studio in Hyde Park after his dancing career was cut short with a disease later diagnosed as M.S.
In early 1948 they were married. Later in the next year they had a son, Jeffrey.
While Charles ran the studio, Jane danced with several music theaters in the Chicago area, a frequent performer at The Chicago Ballet Guild programs, was a solo dancer and toured the country with the Ruth Page’s Opera Ballet Company, and was a solo dancer with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Ballet. One of the more interesting locations where she performed was on a barge anchored off the end of Navy Pier performing in the Merry Widow during the 1960 International Fair.
After a knee injury at the age of 41, she stayed at home and took care of Charles who by then was in a wheelchair, and helped demonstrate for the younger students. She never really wanted to teach but when Charles became bedridden she took over the school and successfully ran it for 12 years until after he passed away in 1983.
Every August from 1955 to 1970 the Bockman family closed the studio, packed up the car and traveled to 44 continental states, the southern provinces of Canada and two trips to southern Mexico. After Charles passed away she was able to resume traveling and over the years visited Alaska, Hawaii, all of Western Europe, Scandinavia, and Kenya.
In 1987 she moved to Naperville and then worked as a hostess at the Oak Brook Interviewing Center for 10 years. She was a coordinator for senior trips for the Naperville Park District. After 80 she started working at Devonshire of Lisle “helping old people” for another 10 years.
For the past 10 months she lived at Heritage Woods of Batavia and lived long enough to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.
She was preceded in death by her father, when she was three, her husband, mother, and an older sister and brother-in law, Sarah Helen (Ellis Doane Jr.).
She is survived by her son Jeffrey (Barbara) of Naperville, three grandsons, Justin, Jeremy, Jason (Erica), and two great-granddaughters, Alexis & Jessica all near Nashville, Tenn., a sister-in-law, as well as numerous nephews and nieces including Jacquie Kern of Oswego, Ill., who was very helpful the past few years and was with us at the end.