JANE COLLINS' early life was racked by tragedy.
Her sister, Rita, died of cancer at age 7.
At Christmastime 15 months later, her pregnant mother, Julia Barry Collins, and the unborn baby died from complications of asthma.
Jane's comfortable life with her family in Frankford was shattered. Her father, Bartholomew Collins, a prominent dentist and Democratic committeeman, and Jane, then 8, and her brothers, Phillip and John, were left to pick up the pieces and keep the family together.
No small feat, with the Great Depression raging.
"Jane took it upon herself to become the new 'mom,' " her family wrote in a tribute. "She learned to cook and clean with the help of her aunt, and cared for her widowed father and brothers."
Jane T. Kelly - as she became after marrying the late Edward Kelly - a former registered nurse, a busy church and school volunteer and devoted family matriarch, died Nov. 18 after a brief illness. She was 87 and lived in Rhawnhurst.
The Collins family made it through the early tragedies with the help of aunts, uncles and cousins. It also helped that Dr. Collins' dental practice was in the front of the home on Overington Street.
Jane graduated from Eden Hall Prep School on the grounds of Nazareth Academy, then attended Little Flower High School. She decided on a career in nursing and graduated from the Frankford School of Nursing.
After a brief stint as an industrial nurse, she met and married Edward Kelly, who owned a towing business and later became executive director of the Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and started the popular Pennypack Park Music Festival.
Jane volunteered for many school activities, first at Resurrection of Our Lord parochial school, and then for 34 years at Father Judge High School. She assisted teachers and principals while also running the Home and School book-club raffle.
Jane was an avid Philadelphia baseball fan of both the Athletics and the Phillies. She was thrilled to be on hand Sept. 3, 1947, when Phillies rookie pitcher Bill McCahan, a Philadelphia native, no-hit the Washington Senators in Shibe Park, winning the game, 3-0.
Her father taught her how to keep score, which she did faithfully as a season-ticket holder for more than 40 years.
Jane is survived by five daughters, Kathleen Ott, Marita Kelly, Nancy Moesner, Patty Kelly-Peightal and Julie Weick; a brother, John; 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by another son, Michael.