After her 99 years of life came to end on Feb. 19, the Springfield community is celebrating the life of alumnus Jane Bayley Hollenbeck, a noted philanthropist and renowned artist whose contributions have left an indelible mark on Wittenberg.
Originally from New Port, Rhode Island, Hollenbeck moved to Springfield when her parents divorced. It was in the Champion City where her mother remarried William Bayley, who was an employee of the Bayley Company. In her youth, Hollenbeck attended Ridgewood Elementary, and graduated from the private school in 1928. She went on to attend Wittenberg and graduated in 1938. After attending Wittenberg, Hollenbeck went on to study fine arts, where she developed into an accomplished sculptor. Her work was featured prominently in a 2012 show at the Springfield Museum of Art.
During her time in Boston, she met and danced with President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy revealed to her his family’s plans to purchase a building located at 102 Fenway. From then on, she always drove a car with a license plate which read “102.”
In 1939, she was married to Dwight Hollenbeck, who later became the CEO of The Credit Life Insurance Company. Dwight Hollenbeck’s relationship with the university dates back to the turn of the previous century, as both of his parents graduated from the school in the early 1900s. While they remained loyal residents of the Springfield community, the Hollenbecks maintained a summer home on the coast of Maine, where Jane Hollenbeck had gone to summer camp as a child.
In 1997, Hollenbeck made the lead gift for Wittenberg’s new humanities building, which would later be named Hollenbeck Hall.
The bulk of Hollenbeck’s philanthropic efforts were directed to supporting the arts. Hollenbeck is the namesake for Bayley-Hollenbeck Center for the Arts, the Clark State downtown venue. Furthermore, she was also one of the Springfield Museum of Art’s top supporters, along with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
She will be remembered by her three children Peter, Gayle and Dwight.