Mabel Jane Dolinger was born in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, on December 9, 1932. Her parents came up from North Carolina to find work during the Depression, and Jane always loved traveling back to see her grandparents in rural Ashe County on family vacations.
A quiet, intelligent girl, Jane excelled in school and graduated with honors in 1950. She quickly secured work as a secretary in a local legal office. But she was a dreamer at heart, and soon became unhappy with the limited prospects of small town life. In November 1951 she packed her suitcases and left for Miami, hoping that more excitement and fulfillment were in store for her there.
Work wasn't easy to find, but eventually she got a job with a Brazilian airline--as a secretary. Before long she discovered that life was no more exciting as a secretary in Florida than in small town Pennsylvania. Desperate for a solution, Jane took modeling lessons, but before she could become a model a fateful turn of events took her down a completely different and unexpected path.
One morning while looking through the "Help Wanted Female" section of the Miami Herald, she noticed an ad for a Girl Friday to accompany a writer on his next travel assignment. She answered the ad and met Ken Krippene, a lawyer turned Hollywood script writer and author of a book and several magazine articles on treasure hunting. He was on his way to Peru to produce a documentary film about the Amazon and possibly a book as well.
Jane took a leap of faith with Ken and decided to accompany him to Peru as his personal secretary. With him she traveled deep into the Amazon interior and lived for six months with several primitive tribes, some of them normally hostile to outsiders. From the experience they made a television documentary entitled Green Hell of the Amazon, and Jane authored her first book, The Jungle Is a Woman.
Jane also took a bold step in her personal life. She fell in love with Ken and married him in Peru in 1954. Thus began their close, loving marriage of more than 25 years, till Ken's death in 1980. At the time of their wedding, Jane was 21 years old and Ken was 55, yet their age difference hardly mattered as they began a nonstop life of adventure that took them to every continent.
Ken, the original writer of the two, continued to write articles semi-regularly, but Jane tapped into a natural wellspring of writing talent to become the powerhouse writer of their team, producing eight books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles. Ken coached Jane in her writing and contributed ideas, but he was happy to let Jane slam out page after page on her typewriter. She loved writing and kept up voluminous private correspondence to family and friends in addition to the books and articles for publication.
They continued their active pace into the 1970s, most recently living in Beirut. They were making plans for another Amazon adventure when Ken was diagnosed with cancer. He fought the disease for about seven years until he finally passed away in 1980. Jane spread his ashes in the hills of her ancestral home in North Carolina.
A widow still in her 40s, Jane lived alone in Miami, continuing to publish articles in magazines and tabloid newspapers. In 1981 she met a doctor and inventor named Alex Gurwood, and he became her second husband. Quiet and sedentary, Gurwood was an odd match for her. Like Ken, Alex was much older than Jane, but unlike Ken, he disliked travel and thought little of her writing career. Comfortably well off, Jane did her best to stay active as a traveler and writer until 1990, when Gurwood, ill and depressed, committed suicide.
Jane was once more a widow, and now she came to rely on the company of her many good friends to support her in this next phase of her life. With an optimistic inclination she had learned from Ken, she soon felt that things were looking up again, and she revived her writing career and made new plans for travel. But then she suffered a severe blow--a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 1993.
Jane fought the disease, refusing to give up on life. She traveled to Germany for experimental treatments, and for a while the cancer seemed to be in remission. Jane began work on an autobiography. But the disease finally overcame her, and she died on September 1, 1995.