Jane Ussery Newman (known as “Jane” by one and all) – mother, grandmother, teacher, caregiver and friend to many – died peacefully on January 31, 2019, surrounded by family and friends.
She was 79 and the daughter of the late Robert and Mary Alice Dickson Ussery.
Jane was born on the family farm in Vanleer, Tennessee, and grew up in Jackson, Tennessee. She graduated from Jackson High School in 1957. She kept in touch with her classmates from Jackson High School and planned and attended many class reunions.
She attended the University of Tennessee College of Nursing in Memphis, Tennessee, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1961. There, she met her late husband, Howard Newman, M.D.
While attending nursing school, Jane played basketball for the University of Tennessee Nurses basketball team (the original “Lady Vols”) for four seasons (1957 -1961) and was coached by James E. “Jim” Stockdale, a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. She played the pivot or post guard position. Coach Stockdale describes Jane “as a great team leader, one of the best I ever had in my 26 years of coaching the UT Nurses.” The UT Nurses played in the Memphis Nurses League and traveled throughout the Southeast and Midwest playing other nursing schools. She was a member of teams that won the Memphis Nurses League championship (1959-60) and the Cotton States Tournament (1957 and 1960). In later years, Jane hosted annual reunions at her home in Brentwood,
Tennessee, for alumni members of the UT Nurses basketball team coinciding with the
Lady Vols – Lady Commodores basketball game in Nashville. Through these reunions,
she thoroughly enjoyed seeing former teammates and establishing relationships with
players from different eras.
Jane earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. She later taught science at Ford Greene Junior High School for two years.
Jane volunteered at Brentwood High School when it opened in 1982. She was awarded the “Head Bruin” award by the school principal, James C. Parker, in 1984. She attended many high school sporting events, home and away, and enjoyed watching her niece, Alice (Miles) Walker, play softball, basketball and volleyball for the Bruins. Years later, she enjoyed watching her grandchildren, Kaitlyn Hearn, Matthew Hearn, J.P. Newman and Joe Newman play youth sports of all kinds. She was a fixture at Kaitlyn Hearn’s basketball games for Independence High School from 2014 – 2018.
Jane was a diehard Vanderbilt basketball fan and was a season ticket holder for more than 35 years. She and her children attended many Vanderbilt men’s basketball games together over the years. She almost always listened to the away games in her kitchen, on the radio, and later, watched them on television. She also was an avid sports fan. She imbued in her children and grandchildren a love of sports that lasts to this day. She loved to listen to George Plaster’s sports talk show in the afternoons and to read the sports pages in The Tennesseean and the Nashville Banner. She loved college basketball and especially the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Jane worked nights as a nurse at Baptist Hospital in Nashville for 17 years. During her career there, she touched the lives of many patients and families through the care she provided on the 3500 floor to stroke victims, quadriplegics and paraplegics. Her work ethic and professionalism were unsurpassed and for many years, she received cards and notes from former patients.
Jane’s faith was strong throughout her life. She was a member of Christ United Methodist Church for many years. She volunteered there each week and loved
attending church on Sundays.
Jane was a proud mother to Phillip R. Newman, Tracy Hearn and Alice Walker. Fiercely independent, she raised her children alone after her husband, Howard, died in September 1971. Above all else, family was the most important thing in her life. Ever present with a sympathetic ear or sage advice, she truly was the matriarch of the family. She took great pride in her children’s accomplishments and in the accomplishments of her grandchildren.
Jane was a loyal friend to many. After she retired, she played Bunco and Bridge and shared coffee at Panera in Cool Springs with her friends on a regular basis.
In recent years, Jane suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. As her health declined, she remained in good spirits and never complained. She taught so many so much about strength, courage, grace and acceptance. Her family is eternally grateful for the care she received in Aspen Arbor and the Courtyard at NHC Place in Cool Springs. Her family is also grateful for the care she received at St. Thomas West Hospital during the last week of her life.
With her passing, the sun does not shine quite as brightly on those who knew her. Her laughter, her sense of humor, her kindness and her love will be missed by many.
Jane was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Mary Alice Dickson Ussery; her sisters, Ann Miles and Sue Clark; and her husband, Howard Newman, M.D. Jane is survived by her son, Phillip R. Newman (Jude White); daughter, Tracy Hearn (Gary Hearn); daughter Alice Walker (Jerry Meyer); and grandchildren Kaitlyn Hearn, Matthew Hearn, J.P. Newman and Joe Newman.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Jane’s name to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
The family will receive visitors at Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tennessee, from 4 – 7 p.m. on Monday, February 4, and from 10 – 11 a.m. on Tuesday, February 5, with a memorial service at the church at 11 a.m. Graveside services will follow at Dickson Union Cemetery.