Jane Hinkle, 67, of Philadelphia, a former business writer, teacher, and partner in one of the early same-sex couples to raise children in Philadelphia, died Sunday, Oct. 21, of Alzheimer's disease at Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley. She had been ill for the last decade.
Ms. Hinkle was born in Arlington and grew up in Springfield, both in Virginia. She graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Springfield and from Wellesley College in 1973.
Ms. Hinkle's mother, Betsy W. Hinkle, was editor and publisher of the Springfield Independent and Burke Herald, both weekly newspapers in northern Virginia. Ms. Hinkle started her career working as a jack-of-all-trades for the weeklies. She was an editorial assistant on the Washington Post business desk and a business writer for the Charlotte News.
In 1980 and early 1981, she took a leave of absence from the News when her mother became terminally ill and needed her care. A business writer named Abbe Fletman took over Ms. Hinkle's job. The two met briefly after Ms. Hinkle's mother died in April 1981. Fletman recalled being impressed with Ms. Hinkle's irreverence and fierce intelligence.
In 1984, the two women had lunch. By that time, Ms. Hinkle was working as a chamber of commerce publicist in Charlotte. "It was presumably strictly a business lunch," Fletman recalled, "but for me, it was much more."
Fletman found Ms. Hinkle to be witty and funny. She asked her out, and that date changed the trajectory of both their lives, Fletman said in a Feb. 11, 2009, Inquirer story about marriage.
Ms. Hinkle and Fletman wanted to live openly as a gay couple but doubted they would feel comfortable doing so in Charlotte because of public attitudes at that time. Fletman was headed to the University of Pennsylvania Law School, so Ms. Hinkle moved with her to Fairmount, and then Germantown. They had two children.
Fletman became a trial lawyer for the Philadelphia law firm of Flaster/Greenberg and is now a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge. They married on July 31, 2014. "I found that I really believe in marriage," she told the Inquirer. "All it took was finding my Princess Charming."
Starting in 1990, Ms. Hinkle stayed at home for nine years to raise the couple's children. When the younger started kindergarten, Ms. Hinkle began studying for a master's degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed the degree in 1999.
She taught fourth and fifth grade at the Philadelphia School and Friends Select School. She loved history and particularly enjoyed teaching students about the U.S. Constitution.
Fletman said: "She also loved science and math, and coming up with ways to make fractions and decimals understandable to her students."
Ms. Hinkle retired from teaching in 2010. In January 2011, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, although the symptoms had appeared earlier. She greeted the diagnosis with equanimity and often matter-of-factly told people, "I have Alzheimer's disease," when she couldn't recall a name or order food at a restaurant.
She spent time quietly advocating for LGBT equality and raising consciousness about Alzheimer's disease by talking to people individually, Fletman said. She was not a joiner.
Ms. Hinkle read all the Harry Potter books aloud to her family. She excelled at creating voices for the characters in the books. She loved to cook simple American foods, such as fried chicken and apple pie.
In addition to her wife, she is survived by a son, Theodore Ross Fletman; a daughter, Elizabeth Woods Fletman; a brother; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were Oct. 24.