September 4, 1929 – May 7, 2018
Jane Ellen Dean (Cavanaugh) Petit, 88, of Scituate, passed away peacefully, with her family beside her, on May 7, after a long, valiant struggle with Alzheimer’s.
Born in Boston, the daughter of Thomas and Jane (O’Brien) Cavanaugh of Ireland, Jane was a proud first generation Irish-American. She grew up in Jamaica Plain, the baby of a boisterous family of six children. Although she lost her father when she was four and it was the depths of the Depression, Jane’s memories and childhood stories were full of adventure and humor. Despite their straightened circumstances, Jane’s mother encouraged her to pursue painting and music, which led to a piano recital at Boston’s Symphony Hall when Jane was in high school.
Jane loved to learn. She attended the Cheverus School in Jamaica Plain and was a graduate of Girls High School. She won a city-wide spelling bee in the eighth-grade. She studied at Boston Business School (she was an excellent typist and stenographer) and was excited to start her career as the executive secretary to the president of the Boston Gas Company. She was always very proud that she was self-supporting from a very young age. Summer vacations were spent at Camp Sandy Island at Lake Winnipesaukee where she met her future husband, Ed Petit. They were married for 59 beautiful years.
Jane’s greatest joy and proudest accomplishment was creating a loving and nurturing home for her husband and their four children. She couldn't wait to be a mother and she brought to it all of her intelligence, creativity and ingenuity. Jane was a great mother.
After her children were grown Jane re-entered the workforce, first working for Jack Conway on his Congressional campaign then continuing with him at Jack Conway Realtors for several years. She worked at the Welch Company and the Scituate School Department. Her favorite job was as a teacher’s aide at the Wampatuck Elementary School. Years later her patient kindness would be warmly remembered by students.
Jane and her husband Ed were longtime residents of Scituate. They both grew up in the city and they felt so lucky to have found such a special place to raise their family. Ed loved the ocean and Jane was his unflagging first mate aboard their sailboat, the “Ellen Dean.” Jane and Ed were familiar friendly faces in Scituate for over 50 years.
Jane found happiness in small, everyday things: family dinner at the kitchen table; sitting down for a moment to play “Clair de Lune” or “Solace” on the piano; teaching her granddaughters how to ride a bike. She always felt lucky and blessed and that she had a wonderful life.
Although her last years were marked by dementia, in spite of that terrible illness, her essential warmth and sweetness always came through. She was a gentle and kind lady and she will be missed Jane was the devoted wife of the late Edward H. Petit, the loving mother of Elizabeth Petit of New York, N.Y., Brianne Petit-Muller and her husband Justin Muller of Palm Coast, Florida, James Petit of Somerville, and the late Edward H. Petit, III; mother-in-law of Kristen Petit of Exeter, N.H. Jane was Grammy to six cherished grandchildren: Verity DaCosta of Amesbury and Mia Baker of Ludlow, Vermont; Jemma, Mae, Edward H. IV and Andrew Petit of Exeter, New Hampshire. Jane is also survived by her sister-in-law Joanne Gillis of Chestnut Hill, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral from the Richardson-Gaffey Funeral Home, 382 First Parish Rd., Scituate, Friday, June 1 at 9am followed by a Mass of Christian burial at St. Mary of the Nativity Church, 1 Kent Street, Scituate, at 10am. Interment to follow at Cudworth Cemetery. Visiting hours 4 to 8 on Thursday, May 31st. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jane’s memory may be made to the Jane Ellen Dean Petit Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 96011, Washington DC 20090-6011, or online http://act.alz.org/goto/Petit
The Petit family is especially grateful to the staff at Sunrise of Cohasset and Hospice of South Shore for their loving care of our mother. They exemplified the kindness that our mother embodied.
4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Richardson-Gaffey Funeral Home
382 First Parish Road
St. Mary of the Nativity Church
1 Kent Street