Jane Kessler Hearn
Jane Kessler was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 27, 1912, the daughter of Josephine Helen Sacken and George Lawrence Kessler, a physician. She became interested in minerals at the age of six, and eventually visited the Brooklyn Children's Museum, which had come under the direction of curator and mineral collector Jack Boyle in 1928. Boyle inspired her to join his Mineralogy Club, where she flourished in her passion for mineralogy.
Jane enrolled as a freshman at Adelphi University in 1931, and in 1932 transferred to Syracuse University to study mineralogy and geology. "Almost at once she became the protege and prodigy of the [mining] engineering school." (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 26, 1932.) She prepared mineralogy exams and gave private tutoring in mineralogy to students.
In 1934 Jane received her BA Degree in Earth Sciences from Syracuse University, and moved on to graduate school at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg. Just for fun, she joined the VPI Dramatics Club, and in 1935-1936 she served on the executive committee of the Tech Players. Mineralogy continued to be her main focus, though; her study (perhaps a Master's Thesis) on "The mineralogy of two Virginia marbles" was publish in Contributions to Virginia Geology, Bulletin 46-J (1936). In 1936-1937 she taught a course in Geology at VPI under a teaching fellowship while continuing to work toward her Master's Degree.
One of the students in Jane's class was Ira Kendal "Ike" Hearn, Jr. (1914-1996), a fellow mining engineering student, and they began dating. Ike was recruited by US Steel Corporation while still a student, and after his graduation in 1937 he worked as a "student engineer" (a trainee) at the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company's Birmingham, Alabama operation. As soon as Ike was assured of a permanent position, Jane left school and they were married on January 5, 1938.
Jane appears to have held a teaching position 1939 in the Shades Cahaba High School in Birmingham, when she wrote a brief article on “The Place of the Museum in Teaching” in the Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science, citing the Brooklyn Children's Museum as an example.
Ike worked for TCI in Birmingham for several years, until 1941 when he enlisted in the Army; he served during WWII in the Pacific Theater, in the Corp of Engineers, and as an adjutant on the task force of engineers under Douglas MacArthur. Following his discharge in 1946 he worked briefly for Kennecott in Utah, but in 1947 returned to TCI as Chief Operations Engineer for Mines and Quarries. In 1948 they moved to Jefferson, Alabama, Ike still working as a mining engineer for the TCI.
In 1953-1959 Jane and Ike moved to Salt Lake City where Ike was hired as Assistant General Manager for the Utah Copper Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation. By 1970 Ike had left Kennecot and taken over as president of the Boyles Brothers Drilling Company. In 1975, while still living in Salt Lake City, Jane served as treasurer (and in 1976 as acting director) of the Salt Lake Art Center, and in 1972 Ira served as commissioner for the Utah State Liquor Commission.
Jane also kept busy as a museum volunteer. A 1984 article in the Daily Utah Chronicle states that a colorful collection of 29 stone eggs went on display at the Utah Museum of Natural History. “The collection is on loan from Jane K. Hearn, mineralogist and museum volunteer tour guide, who was one of the primary researchers for the Museums world-acclaimed Norton Hall of Minerals.”
Jane and Ike retired to Ashville, North Carolina, where Ike died in 1996. Jane returned to New York where she died at the age of 93, on July 18, 2006. Jane had continued collecting minerals for many years after leaving school, at least into the 1960s, and purchased the mineral collection of her old mentor, Jack Boyle, who died in 1955. Ultimately she donated her collection to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, to be used in teaching.
New York Birth Index, 1910-1965.
New York Marriage License Index, 1907-1995.
U.S. Federal Census 1920, 1930, 1940.
Salt Lake City Directories.
Salt Lake Tribune, August 10, 1958.
Children's Museum News, March 1937.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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