A True Daughter of Naperville
February 3, 2011 — Source: Naperville Sun — Author: Kathy Millen
In 1931, when Naperville celebrated its centennial, 13-year-old Jane Latshaw was chosen by city fathers as Miss Naperville.
Because she was the great-granddaughter of John Naper, brother of Capt. Joseph Naper who founded the town in 1831, she was given the honor of riding in the centennial parade in a limousine.
She later confessed when interviewed as an adult that she would have preferred to ride in the covered wagon that also was part of the parade.
A retired kindergarten teacher and longtime lover of history, Jane Latshaw Scherer died Thursday at her home in Montrose, Colo. She was 92.
“You meet people in your life that really impact you, that are just a pleasure,” said her son, Jim Scherer, also of Montrose. “They’re a teacher. They’re just wonderful. Not to sound biased, but it turned out that wonderful person we had in our life was our mother. I think about all the lives that woman touched. ...All I hear is people saying ‘sorry for your loss’ and it’s maybe a loss in a sense, but the heavens are gaining an angel because she was just one special person.”
Born Feb. 7, 1918, in Naperville, Jane Scherer was raised in a house at 736 N. Washington St., less than two miles from her great-grandfather’s home along the DuPage River. She attended Ellsworth School and was a 1936 graduate of Naperville High School.
She met the love of her life in the third grade. One day in 1927 when William (Billy) Scherer was absent from school, she wrote him a note telling him she missed him. They began dating in high school where he was the captain of the basketball team and she was his biggest fan. A few months after graduation, Billy put in writing a 50-cent wager with a friend that he would someday marry Jane. Five years later he did and they settled in Geneva. They were together 60 years before his death in 2001.
Their love story is part of Naperville’s Century Walk public art exhibit. Located at the entrance to the Riverwalk on Main Street is a sculpture of two children sitting on a park bench holding hands. “A Lifetime Together” by artist Emanuel Martinez was unveiled in November 2002. It includes a granite monument on which Jane’s letter and Billy’s 1936 wager are mounted.
Also presented at the same time was Martinez’ “Be All That You Can Be,” a sculpture of William Scherer as a high school basketball star which is located at Naperville Central High School.
John Scherer of Paradise Valley, Ariz., nationally known for his educational role as the Video Professor, donated $100,000 for the sculptures honoring his parents as well as $500,000 in their name to the Naperville Education Foundation for education and athletic scholarships for Naperville Central High School students. He said his mother had a great sense of humor, felt a special kinship with American Indians, loved her hometown and cared for others.
He remembers a time when he was in high school and needed a car. His mother found one for sale in the classified ads. The elderly woman who owned the car asked for $175. His mother gave her $200.
“I remember we razzed her so much,” he recalled. “‘You should have given her $150,’ we said. Mom said ‘no, she can use the money. She’s on a pension and she can use the money.’ That’s the type of person she was.”
Mary Ann Bobosky of Naperville, a friend of the Scherer family and whose husband, Brand, is president of the Century Walk Corp., said she remembers Scherer as an avid volunteer who loved history, children and Naperville.
“I thought it was so wonderful she OK’d everything that John wanted to do about leaving a living history,” she said. “She loved seeing pictures of little kids sitting on the park bench (next to the sculpted figures).”
Peggy Frank, president and CEO of Naperville Heritage Society/Naper Settlement said Scherer’s presence will always be felt in Naperville.
“Although we will miss Jane’s wonderful reminisces and humorous wit, her imprint on our town will always be remembered as the teenage ‘Miss Naperville’ during our town’s centennial celebration and commemorated as a young girl sitting on the bench by the Riverwalk on Main Street,” she said.
Scherer’s survivors include eight grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are pending.