Jane Lanier Watson, 23

Jane Watson, age 23, beloved daughter, sister, friend, and colleague, took her own life on Monday, September 19 in Brooklyn, NY. Jane was born in Greenwich on June 24, 1999 to Joseph Dunlap Watson and Hilary Healey Watson. On that day, she joined her mother and father and sister, Josephine Huskins Watson, to form our special foursome. Jane lived a beautiful and exceptional life in Greenwich; Scottsdale, AZ; Zug, Switzerland; and New York, NY.

Jane was educated at Greenwich Academy beginning in preschool at the Cowan Center, through Group 5. She then attended middle school at the International School of Zug and Luzern while her family resided in Zug. She returned to Greenwich to attend the Greenwich Academy Upper School, graduating in 2018. She attended Columbia University and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies, graduating with honors in May 2022.

From the first days of her life, Jane made an extraordinary impression on everyone who encountered her. She was kind, compassionate, generous, talented, brilliant, funny, and beautiful. According to many of her teachers, she not only excelled in her studies but also made the classroom a better place for everyone. She earned many academic awards over the years, including Class Valedictorian for Groups 10, 11, and 12. She enjoyed being a Peer Leader her senior year, which fit well with her passion for teaching and counseling, as well as her intense interest in other people and their well-being. No mere brainiac, Jane thoroughly enjoyed athletics, taking up basketball, volleyball, and rowing while in Switzerland. Back at Greenwich Academy, she rowed for four years and served as co-captain of the medal-winning Greenwich Academy Varsity Crew Team during her junior and senior years.

Jane’s biggest passion, though, was for music. There was always music in the Watson home, and Jane and Josie both developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the art form, enjoying everything from medieval madrigals to the latest synth-pop and neo-disco. But Jane was more than a listener — she adored singing, playing guitar, performing, and creating her own songs. Jane had a stunning voice and a remarkable stage presence. Her perfect pitch, angelic tone, and clear enjoyment of her performances wowed everyone who saw her in musical theater productions at Greenwich Academy and Brunswick School, with her band in the Massey Theater Black Box, or as president of the Greenwich Academy Madrigals. At Columbia, she honed her bedroom-pop skills and rocked the campus and Spotify with her original songs under the moniker “Miss Anthropopscene,” from the feminist neo-disco anthem “Birth Control” in 2019 to the latest fan favorite, “Trees.” She showed a softer side of her musical abilities in the moving ballad “Million Things,” which appeared on Ilandz’s 2019 album, True Thoughts. About her music, Jane often said she wanted her fans to “think as well as dance.” They did, and they will.

While at Columbia, Jane cherished her work for the Roger Lehecka Double Discovery Center, which provides tutoring, college counseling, and other support for high-potential youths from underserved high schools and communities in upper Manhattan, in order to prepare them for a successful college experience. As an undergrad, Jane was in charge of recruiting and scheduling Columbia students to tutor the high-schoolers in various subjects. This past summer, she started working for the DDC directly, while studying to complete her New York State teacher’s certification so that she could pursue her intended career as a secondary-school teacher and education policy-shaper.

During her final semester at Columbia, Jane fell into the grips of an acute depression. Such an illness is difficult to comprehend for anyone who has not experienced or witnessed it up close. Those who were with her these past several months know that it was a hideous beast, one that wrapped its toxic tentacles around her and would not let go. Jane fought mightily and bravely to overcome it, under the exceptional and loving care of some of the top providers in our area. Over the course of the summer, in the company of loving family and friends, she enjoyed several happy and hopeful interludes, in Connecticut, New York, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Virginia, and Tennessee. In the end, though, the depression was relentless and ultimately catastrophic. Our family urges anyone who gets a glimpse of such a situation to recognize how insidious it can be, and to seek assistance as soon as possible.

Jane will be profoundly missed by those who survive her, including her mother, father, and sister; her grandmothers, Amburn Huskins Power of Athens, GA and Celia Powell Healey of Fort Worth, TX; great-aunt and namesake Lanier Watson of New Orleans, LA; and aunts, uncles, and cousins Anna Brune and her husband, Mike, of Flemington, NJ, Anna’s daughter, Natalia Schustak, and her husband, Jeremy, and their children, Claire and Alice; Dr. William V. Healey III of Seattle, WA and his children, Caroline and Ben; Peter Healey and his wife, Ashley, of Fort Worth, TX and their children, Preston and Mary Paige; Michael Healey and his wife, Helen, of Dallas, TX; Will Power and his wife, Kathy, of Warner Robins, GA and their son, Sean; and Jay Watson and his wife, Susan, of Oxford, MS and their children, Katherine and Judson, and Judson’s wife, Marissa.

The family will hold a private burial. A memorial service to celebrate Jane’s extraordinary life will be held at the Greenwich Academy Massey Theater on Saturday, November 26, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.

Those wishing to make a donation in Jane’s memory should please consider the Roger Lehecka Double Discovery Center at Columbia University (see their website for instructions: ddc.college.columbia.edu).