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Published August 13, 2013, 08:03 PM

Friends and former students of veteran Grand Forks dance instructor mourn her passing

Jane Pasley, 43, a popular dance instructor who taught hundreds of Grand Forks area children the techniques and joys of dance at the studio her mother founded, died today at a St. Cloud, Minn., hospital after a sudden illness, family members said.

By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald

Jane Pasley, 43, a popular dance instructor who taught hundreds of Grand Forks area children the techniques and joys of dance at the studio her mother founded, died today at a St. Cloud, Minn., hospital after a sudden illness, family members said.

The extended Pasley family was about to conclude an annual vacation at Woman Lake near Longville, Minn., “her favorite place on Earth,” brother Tim Pasley said, when she fell ill.

“The doctors said it was cardiac arrest, and they don’t know why,” he said. “They did numerous tests, but they don’t know why.”

Her sister, Sarah Jean Pasley, tried to keep a wide circle of family, friends, former students and parents of former students updated over the past several days.

“She had not been feeling well all day Thursday,” Sarah wrote on Jane Pasley’s Facebook page. “She was vomiting all day and stayed in bed. At about 6:45 that evening she asked her youngest child … to go to our cabin to get her some fruit.”

But when her daughter returned, Jane wasn’t responsive. Other family members called 911 and began CPR. An ambulance arrived and attendants were able to get a heartbeat, and Jane was airlifted to a St. Cloud hospital, where doctors lowered her body temperature to reduce swelling in the brain.

On Monday and again today, tests showed no brain activity. She was declared brain dead shortly after 9 a.m. today, her brother said, and the family prepared to honor her expressed desire to be an organ donor.

But first, the family wrote a statement to read to medical personnel who would perform that procedure, so they would know something of the life and achievements of Jane Pasley.

“She is the mother of four: T.J, genius mind; Colin, age 16 and really good at it; Hunter, age 13, cutest hockey player ever, and Jeana, age 9, most beautiful singer and dancer.

“Beloved family member. Terrific children’s ballet teacher. Jeana says she is an awesome mom and doesn’t deserve this.

“She loved to drive the speedboat and pull all the children, her nieces and nephews and friends tubing. She was strong-willed and full of energy. Sadie said she was a great aunt and a lot of fun. She was very graceful and so very clumsy at the same time. Chaos was her middle name… We will love and remember her forever.”

Dancing at 3, teaching at 14

Jane Pasley had been dancing with her mother since she was 3, according to information on a website for the Nancy Pasley Ballet School. She started teaching at 14. She attended various dance camps, taught throughout the region and served as dance line coach at Grand Forks Central High School.

Her last posts on her Facebook page last week indicated that she was having a wonderful time at the lake.

Aug. 7: “Great Day!”

Aug. 8: “Last night at Woman Lake! Very peaceful. Love it!!!”

A new Facebook page created as family and friends hoped for a recovery, Jane Pasley’s Prayer Page, had recorded more than 2,400 “likes” by mid-afternoon today, and dozens of stunned and grieving friends, former dance students and parents of former students left messages and remembrances.

Kate Metzger recalled that on picture day before a recital in 1998, “I realized that I had forgotten to bring my can-can costume. (You know, the most important one of all!) Without hesitating, Jane offered me hers so I could be in the photo. Sometimes the smallest gestures reveal the biggest hearts.”

Kayla Reinowski wrote that it was “a pleasure and an honor to be taught by her and then dance beside her. She was so full of life and a beautiful dancer.”

Steph Koralewski was one of many posters who sent thoughts and prayers to Pasley’s children. “When I think of Jane, I always think of a strong and loving Mom.” And Bryan Abernathey, who shared a long bus ride with her to watch their respective children compete in a tournament in Sydney, Mont., said they spent much of that time trading stories. “She spoke of her kids with love, pride and passion.”

‘The coolest chick’

Katie Ricke, addressing Jane, remembered “when I was a little girl and I went to the old studio for daycare in the summers. You were totally my idol! You were like the coolest chick I ever met. You loved loud music and dancing around and acting like there wasn’t a care in the world, which, what young girl wouldn’t LOVE to be around that?!”

Lena Underhill, posting from California, also spoke directly to Jane Pasley. “Your spirit fire and soul will live on forever in the lives and in the hearts of the hundreds of dancers you and your family have touched throughout the years. Every dance danced, every song sung, every small step in tune will be a part of you in all of us!”

A fund to benefit the Pasley family has been set up at Choice Financial, 1697 S. 42nd St. in Grand Forks.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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