Jill Townsend Red, 76, nurse and conservationist

Jill T.Red
Jill T.Red
Posted: December 13, 2011

Jill Townsend Red, 76, of Malvern, a nurse and conservationist, died of nonsmoking lung cancer Thursday, Dec. 8, at home.

In 1970, Mrs. Red and her husband, Donald E., moved to Radnor when he joined the radiology staff of Lankenau Hospital. He later chaired the radiology department and was president of the medical staff.

While her husband pursued his medical career, Mrs. Red raised four sons, worked as a nurse, and became involved in the community.

She and other activists fought to protect the former 46-acre Zantzinger estate in Radnor from development. In 1976, Radnor Township purchased the estate. A public park was created, and the Willows mansion on the estate became a venue for weddings and social events.

After Mrs. Red and her husband moved to a farm in Willistown Township in 1977, she served on the Willistown Open Space Committee, the Environmental Action Committee, the Willistown Historic Commission, and the board of Historic Sugartown.

She was involved in the establishment of the Willistown Conservation Trust, in 1996, to protect 28,000 acres surrounding Willistown in Chester and Delaware Counties, including the Crum, Ridley, and Darby Creek Watersheds.

"We are forever grateful for the role Jill played for over 30 years as a passionate advocate for preserving open space in the Willistown countryside. She was an avid proponent of sustainable practices to protect the environment and freely shared her love for the natural world with friends and family," said Bonnie Van Alen, president and executive director of the Willistown Conservation Trust.

In 2004, Mrs. Red helped form the Save Ardmore Coalition, in response to a redevelopment proposal that would have used eminent domain to acquire and demolish properties in Ardmore's business district. The coalition received a Community Action Award in 2008 from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

A native of Wilmington, Mrs. Red grew up in several states and graduated from high school while living in Orange, Texas.

In 1958, she graduated first in her class from the nursing school at the University of Texas, where she met her future husband, a medical student.

After they married in 1958, he served in the Air Force as a physician. When they were stationed in Germany, she had an opportunity to travel, learned to speak German and French, and developed a lifelong love for European art, culture, and cuisine, her son Christian said.

Before her children were born, Mrs. Red was a nurse in San Antonio, Texas. In 1980 she returned to nursing and joined the staff of Bryn Mawr Hospital. She later was a nurse at Eastern College, and for four years, from 1985 to 1989, she was a school nurse at Episcopal Academy.

Mrs. Red and her husband traveled abroad often, especially to France. They enjoyed seeing the sights and visiting family in New York City, where they maintained an apartment. They entertained their grandchildren at their farm and vacationed with them. In 2008, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their family in Maine.

In addition to her husband and son, Mrs. Red is survived by sons Stephen, Jon, and Geoffrey; a brother; and six grandchildren.

A funeral is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at St. David's Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd., Wayne. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

Donations may be made to Willistown Conservation Trust, 925 Providence Rd., Newtown Square, Pa. 19073.


Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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