Jane M. Payette
Jane M. Payette died Saturday, July 22 from natural causes, at her home in Chapala at the age of 84.
Born Jane M. Timmers in Dayton, Ohio on September 1, 1932 to M. “Timme” Timmers and Reed B. Timmers, she attended Oak Park Township High School in Oak Park, Illinois, and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She married William “Bill” H. Birkett in Kahoka, Missouri in 1948, and then Earl William “Bill” Payette in Livonia, Michigan in 1974.
In 1957, Jane and her first husband started a successful printer’s “pre-press” service in Livonia, Michigan. After they divorced, she became sole owner, renamed her business Trade Graphics, Inc. and moved it to Plymouth, Michigan.
Jane sold her business in 1993 prior to retiring, and moved to Chapala in 2004.
An avid and skilled bridge player, golfer, house designer and home cook, she was a member of the Lakeside Bridge Club and Country Club de Chapala. She was awarded Lifetime Master Certificate by the American Contract Bridge League and was the Country Club de Chapala’s Super Senior Golf Champion for 2008, 2009 and 2012. She also designed the houses she lived in Hamburg, Michigan; Lexington, Kentucky and Chapala.
Jane volunteered as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at the Lake Chapala Society and at her home, and lent her voice to an audio book project to help vision impaired students.
She is survived by her son William “Bill” B. Birkett and his wife Oda Katherine “Kay” Birkett of Plymouth, Michigan; son Richard “Rich” J. Birkett of Chapala; granddaughter Katherine “Katie” Ross-Birkett and her husband Matt Ross of Big Flats, New York; grandson William “Bill” C. Birkett of Plymouth, Michigan; and great-grandson Henry Ross of Big Flats, New York. She is also survived by her cats Sheba, Miz, Tyler, Buddy and Poochie II.
She was predeceased by her first and second husbands, and brothers Richard “Dick” Gillaspy and Joseph “Joe” Gillaspy.
Lady Mary Fleming (Tad Davidson)
Lady Mary Flemming (“Tad”), a well-known British resident of Ajijic, died peacefully on June 12, at the Blue House Care Home, aged 86.
Born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, England, she trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and was snapped up early in her career by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).
Tad made her name with a local BBC radio show called “Haunted Britain.”
She became a busy freelancer, interspersing spots for the flagship BBC children’s program “Blue Peter” with commentating for air shows and work on the live stage.
She clearly inherited some of her steel core from her mother, Alice, a strict religious authoritarian with whom her daughter never saw eye to eye. For instance, Alice, a housewife married to Tad’s coal miner father, loaded bombs from a crane on to trains during World War II.
The “Tad” title was conferred on her around the age of three, she told The Reporter in a 2009 interview. “My maternal grandparents owned a brewery in the north of England known as ‘Taddy’s Ale.’ One day I slipped my leash and disappeared for a couple of hours. When they finally found me, I was behind one of the vats drunk as a skunk and having a wonderful time. From that time on, I was known as Tad.”
Her first husband was a pilot in the Royal Air Force. The couple traveled extensively, living for periods in India, Egypt, Cyprus, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong. “Wherever he was sent, there was opportunity for me to work and broadcast for the BBC,” Tad told the Reporter in 2009.
The late 1970s found Tad in Las Vegas hosting a late-night radio show from the Sands Casino, which led to working in Los Angeles as a radio producer.
After years of moving back and forth across the Atlantic, from the United Kingdom to Canada and the United States, in 2003 she finally settled in Mexico. She discovered that she was entitled to be known as “Lady Mary Fleming” – an automatic and centuries-old inheritance conferred after her two siblings, Sir Dennis Fleming and Lady Ann Fleming passed away. “It took a tremendous amount of paperwork and red tape to accomplish it,” she admitted to the Reporter.
Lakeside was delighted to embrace Tad as she, in turn, embraced so many local causes.
Her charming Yorkshire greeting of “Hello Love” echoed many times in Salvador’s Restaurant, from the reserved table she shared with her friend, Pat Percival, as they received donations for a myriad of charities. One of Tad’s pet causes was importing special prosthetic bras for women in Mexico who had under gone a mastectomy.
A talented watercolor artist, Tad produced a bilingual illustrated children’s book entitled “Elizabeth Has An Adventure.” Elizabeth is her granddaughter, who is now a successful female master of ceremonies at a major event complex in New Orleans.
Tad was in her element in Mexico. A keen geologist, a bowl on her coffee table overflowed with collected stones, all of which she could identify. Rumor has it that she once found a fossilized mammoth’s tooth on the Libramiento.
She married six times – two short of Elizabeth Taylor, she used to joke – and had three children: Barbara, Michael and Tracey, all of whom survive her.
Said Sue Morris, president of the British Society, of which Tad was a staunch supporter: “She was a glamorous, exciting one-of-a kind lady. An international treasure. I dare say we may never see her kind again.”
Jorge Barajac of Jocotepec, Neville Bayly, now of Hawaii, Jan and Richard Cousins and Bob Foster all recalled how deeply Tad enhanced their lives.
It was Foster, a longtime friend, who rescued her after a serious fall and took her to The Blue House for care by Dr. Roberto and Rosario Martinez, along with her constant feline companion, Isis.
Said Foster: “Seguro Popular’s doctors and staff gave Lady Fleming constant comfort and top-class care in her final days. They earn all our thanks.” He also praised Cynthia Guzman of the San Francisco Funeral Home in Chapala for her kindness, assistance and strict adherence to Tad’s every last wish.
In memory of Tad, a long-standing supporter of the Cruz Raja, donations will be gratefully received at Yoly’s Salon, Plaza Buganvillas or the Red Cross office in Chapala.