Jane Hinkle, a noted educator and the spouse of Common Pleas Judge Abbe Fletman, died Oct. 21 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 67 and lived in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.
Hinkle taught elementary-school students in Philadelphia for about 11 years, beginning in 1999 when she taught fourth- and fifth- graders at The Philadelphia School, known for its innovative educational techniques and high academic standards.
“Her former colleagues at The Philadelphia School remember Jane as a supportive and generous teaching teammate who was respected for her grit and authenticity,” said Lois West, a school spokesperson. “Former students knew her as a master wordsmith whose love of literature was contagious. She formed long-lasting relationships with her students, many of whom attended her funeral. Jane had a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of children. That was her legacy as a teacher.”
Hinkle loved history and particularly enjoyed teaching about the U.S. Constitution. She also was known for offering a mini-course in science fiction and, at one time, owned an extensive collection of science-fiction books dating from the 1950s, Fletman said.
In 2005, Hinkle transferred to Friends Select School, where she taught fourth and fifth grade until her retirement in 2010. According to a statement issued by the school, Hinkle “brought her passion for American history to her social-studies teaching in those grades.”
Hinkle was born in Arlington, Va. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1973. Hinkle’s mother, Betsy W. Hinkle, was editor and publisher of the Springfield Independent and Burke Herald, weekly newspapers in northern Virginia. Hinkle started her career by working for the weeklies, performing a variety of tasks. She subsequently became an editorial assistant on the Washington Post business desk and a business writer for the Charlotte News.
Hinkle and Fletman met in 1981, when both women were living in North Carolina. They began dating in December 1984 and remained a couple until Hinkle’s death. In 1985, Hinkle joined Fletman when she returned to Philadelphia to study law. They lived together, first in West Philadelphia, then in Fairmount and later in Germantown. They had two children, Theodore Ross Fletman and Elizabeth Woods Fletman.
“We had a Jewish wedding ceremony in 2003 in our neighbor’s backyard in Germantown,” Fletman recalled. “Later, we legally married in Delaware in 2013. It’s sad that we didn’t make it to our 34th anniversary.”
In 1999, Hinkle earned a master’s degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania and subsequently embarked on a teaching career. After graduating Penn Law School, Fletman became a trial attorney in private practice and currently serves as a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge.
Hinkle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in January 2011.
“While there’s often a stigma attached to Alzheimer’s disease, Jane was upfront and matter-of-fact about discussing her illness,” Fletman said. “She did feel a responsibility to raise people’s consciousness about what the disease was like. She never hid who she was, whether it was being a lesbian mother or someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.”
Hinkle was a big fan of Harry Potter books and read all of them aloud to her family. She excelled at creating special voices for the characters. She also enjoyed cooking simple meals for her family, such as fried chicken and apple pie, Fletman added.
At the time of her death, Hinkle resided at Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley, in Germantown.
In addition to Fletman and their children, Hinkle is survived by a brother, Woody; a sister-in-law, Karen Nasuti; and many nieces and nephews. Funeral services were held Oct. 24 at Mishkan Shalom in Roxborough. Interment was at Laurel Hill Cemetery in East Falls. Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 399 Market St., Suite 102, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106, or the Center for Literacy, 399 Market St., Suite 201, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106.