Janice S. Brightwell, who spent much of her life in Monmouth County, New Jersey, died at Toumey Hospital in Sumter, South Carolina on Monday, May 30. Her death was reported by her daughter Patricia Topping. Mrs. Brightwell had been living with her daughter at her daughter’s farm in Rembert, SC for the past several years.
From 1939 until 1970 Janice Brightwell lived in Locust, NJ with her first husband, Lawrence I. Clarke, with whom she had five children. They were members of the Seabright Beach Club and the Seabright Tennis Club and all five children attended Rumson County Day School. Janice was a competitive sportswoman and an avid gardener. She was particularly fond of tennis and an excellent competitor in both singles and doubles. She became a serious equestrian, somewhat by accident, when her daughter went to boarding school and left her horse at home in Locust. Never one to miss an opportunity, Janice started riding the horse, became very proficient, and joined the Monmouth County Harriers. She spent many fall and winter weekends fox-hunting up and down the eastern seaboard. Janice moved to eastern Long Island in 1970. Her marriage to Lawrence Clarke ended in divorce.
While in Long Island she met Henry P. Brightwell and the two became inseparable friends and married. They spent winters in New Haven, Connecticut and summers in East Hampton. Janice continued her sports and took up golf to play with her husband. While in New haven, Janice sustained her passion for gardening as a member of the New Haven Garden Club and she was also a docent of the Peabody Museum. She and her husband were very active in events at Yale University and were members of the New Haven Symphony, the Long Wharf theatre and the New Haven Lawn Club. They travelled extensively with their last grand trip being on the QE2 final cross Atlantic voyage.
In East Hampton, Janice and her husband were members of the Maidstone Club and the Devon Yacht Club and were enthusiastic players in a number of sports and club competitions. Her love of gardening and desire to keep East Hampton green and beautiful led to a stint as President of the East Hampton Garden Club and a contributing member of the Ladies Village Improvement Society. Henry Brightwell died in 2005.
During her five years living with her daughter Patricia, Janice became a member of The Camden Garden Club. She learned about many flowers, plants and trees of the southern landscape and enjoyed cultivating them. She appreciated the vast amount of wildlife and preserved land in SC. She spent many hours watching and identifying the great quantity of birds at her bird feeders. She enjoyed performances at The Fine Arts Center and dinners at The Springdale Hall Club.
Janice Brightwell was born January 1, 1915, in Port Monmouth, New Jersey, the fifth child of J. Howard Smith and his wife Blanche. A few years earlier her father had purchased the small fish meal production facility in Port Monmouth which he and his brother, with the later assistance of their sons and daughters, expanded greatly over the years. At its height in the 1960’s the J. Howard Smith Company owned 10 factories in the United States, on the East coasts and one factory each in Canada, Peru and Chile. As the second generation approached retirement age they sold the business in 1973 to London based Hanson plc.
The Smith family had amassed substantial real estate holdings on the East Coast. Part of these holdings included approximately 9,000 acres of salt marsh and islands near Tucker- ton, New Jersey and also a two mile tract of ocean beach front in Amagansett, Long Island.
As part of the sale of their business, Janice Brightwell and her brothers and sister arranged the transfer of these two tracts into public domain so they would be kept in their pristine state in perpetuity. The Tuckerton salt marsh property was transferred to the federal government and now comprises a part of the Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s location is one of the Atlantic Flyways most active flight paths for migratory water birds. It is administered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Long Island beachfront property, a land of beach, barrier dunes and environmentally sensitive bogs and pines, was transferred to the State of New York and is now known as Napeague State Park. At the time Janice commented that these two unique areas were something, "the Smith family will never allow to be developed."
In addition to her daughter Patricia and her husband Alvin R. Topping, Janice Brightwell is survived by her sons, Stephen, David and his wife Leslie Moore Clarke, Lawrence I. (Mike) Clarke, Jr. and her other daughter Janice L. (Lolly) Clarke as well as eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Burial is in the Smith family plot at Fairview Cemetery in Middleton, NJ.
Memorial donations to the Walter Crowe Animal Shelter, 460 Fair St., Camden, SC 29020 are welcomed by the family.
Kornegay Funeral Home, Camden Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.
On-line condolences may be sent to Brightwell’s family at www.kornegayfuneral.com