The Bethany and Naugatuck communities are mourning the loss of a longtime public servant who helped countless people in her position as director of the Naugatuck Youth Services for 19 years.
Jane Lobdell, a Bethany resident, died Saturday due to complications from cancer. She was in her early 60s.
A memorial service will be held at the Congregational Church of Naugatuck at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 21.
Lobdell, a licensed marriage and family therapist who had a private practice in Bethany on top of her duties in Naugatuck, is remembered in the local area as someone who had a deep compassion for children. Friends say she could put a smile on someone’s face with her booming laughter and her warm embraces.
“She was a hugger, no doubt,” said friend Jane Walsh, who worked with Lobdell on several philanthropic community outreach efforts in Naugatuck for several years. “I think everyone will remember that. She always made you feel good. Anybody will tell you that she was just a warm, outgoing person and a wonderful friend. She just has a beautiful spirit."
Naugatuck Youth Services is one of the three oldest youth service bureaus in the state of Connecticut and it began in 1970, according to Naugatuck’s official website. Funded by Naugatuck taxpayers and grants from state agencies, the organization is a family therapy center.
It is estimated that Lobdell’s efforts throughout the years, both as a therapist and counselor and through the many community outreach programs she was involved in, had a positive influence on thousands of lives.
She was a member of the Naugatuck Rotary Club and had served as its president for a term. Every year, she would host a Christmas Party for children at Naugatuck Head Start in which Rotarians would give gifts.
“Jane spearheaded the whole thing; she did so much for the community that many people probably didn’t realize because she wasn’t looking for credit,” said Laurie Yelding, a Rotary Club board member, vice president of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls and a board member for the Naugatuck YMCA.
“She was an absolute amazing woman,” Yelding said. “She was the type of woman who could walk into a situation, and she would just kind of quickly assess it and if it was something confrontational, she could disarm you. She had a loud laugh and a huge heart.”
Working with children was Lobdell’s passion and life’s work, and she was great at it, Yelding said.
She recalls that Lobdell could get through to even the most difficult children and help them work through problems. Sometimes she would do so strictly through talk therapy, while other times she implemented different techniques, such as sand tray therapy.
Naugatuck Deputy Mayor Tamath K. Rossi said she had the privelege of working with Lobdell on various boards, including the judicial review board for wayward youths.
“She had a deep compassion for this community,” Rossi said. “I don’t know how anyone could ever begin to fill those shoes.”
Naugatuck Mayor Bob Mezzo called Lobdell a tremendous individual who loved being an active part of the Naugatuck community.
“She passionately served the children and families with whom she worked at Naugatuck Youth and Family Services for many years,” he said. “She will be missed dearly by all of her friends and co-workers throughout the borough. And our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”
For Saturday’s memorial service, in lieu of flowers, the family is asking that gifts be made to “Jane’s Wish,” a foundation that her children and grandchildren have established to honor her memory and continue her loving work.
Checks can be mailed to Jane’s Wish, 625 Litchfield Turnpike, Bethany, 06524. For more information or to send an online condolence, visit www.aldersonfuneralhomes.com.