Mary “Jane” Humphrey


Founder of Once Upon A Time bookstore in Montrose, Mary “Jane” Humphrey passed away peacefully after a long re-occurring illness. She will be remembered for her trail-blazing spirit, having opened Once Upon A Time bookstore in 1966, long before women worked outside of the home and certainly before it was common for a woman to own a business of her own. Jane enriched the lives of many with her love and knowledge of the written word, focusing mostly on quality children’s literature.
Jane was born to Frank and Jessie Goad in Chicago and was soon joined by her younger brother Frank. The Goad family moved to Glendale when Jane was a teenager. She excelled in school having skipped grades along the way and passed the qualifying exam for Mensa membership.
She met Bob Humphrey after graduating high school and they were married June 26, 1953. In 1957, Chris was born, then daughter Susan and then Tim. Jane worked part time as a clerk and window dresser at Bob’s Valley Bookstore on Honolulu Avenue. It was there she realized there was a tremendous need for a shop specific to children’s literature.
With the encouragement of friends, she opened the first location of Once Upon A Time on Verdugo Road. It was the first of four locations in Montrose. This changed the face of independent bookstores across the nation. Today, Once Upon A Time it is owned by Maureen Palacios who has expanded and modernized the shop while maintaining the essence of Jane’s original vision.
Being a wise and creative retailer was just one of many Jane’s extraordinary talents. In retirement, she and Bob continued to travel, maintain an authentic English country garden and truly enjoyed their newfound freedom. She created, a blog depicting life in retirement. The blog showcased both her amazing photo talent and her ability to write honestly and eloquently. Through her blog, she made friends with people all over the world. She was a watercolor artist; she loved blue grass and traditional jazz. She had a dry sense of humor enjoyed by all who knew her; she passed humor as well as many other excellent qualities on to her children. Jane left an imprint on the hearts and souls of those who shared her path in a variety of ways.
Jane and Bob were married 58 years when Bob passed away. He was the love of her life and she may have ultimately died of a broken heart.
Jane is survived by her children Chris Humphrey and his wife Frances Hui, Susan and Tim Humphrey; grandchildren Ryan Humphrey, Justin Humphrey and Owen Humphrey; great granddaughter Asher Knapp; brother Frank Allen Goad. She has a large extended family that surrounded and loved her, both inside and outside her retirement community. They loved, cared and supported her every need whether in health or in illness.
The world is a much better place for her having been here for 79 years. Her life will continue through the lives of others. Rest in peace, our beloved Jane.
On Oct. 20 at 5 p.m., a celebration of her life will be officiated by Rev. Doug Edwards at Descanso Garden’s Rose Garden Pavilion, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge.