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It is with sadness that the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy shares news of Jane Davis Rourk’s recent death. It is with appreciation that we say goodbye to this extraordinary and humble leader and friend.

Jane Davis Rourk
Jane Davis Rourk

Rourk, OTR/L, BCP, FAOTA, was an associate professor of occupational therapy at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was a leader for occupational therapy in the state and nationally until her retirement. Many students and practitioners were graced by her mentorship and her commitment to serve clients. She received her occupational therapy degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Rourk was a North Carolina native.

Rourk served as the OT Consultant to the NC Department of Public Instruction and was a pioneer in school-based practice, who championed the profession’s commitment to inclusive education. As a tireless volunteer, she served in a number of professional leadership positions at both the state and national levels including as president of the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association, chair of the North Carolina Licensure Board, Member of the Council on Allied Health in North Carolina, speaker of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Representative Assembly, and chair of the AOTA Specialty Certification Board. Her vision for scholarship and research led to her honorary life membership in the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. In 2001, she received the AOTA Award of Merit. Rourk’s North Carolina OT license number was 001, a testament to her work to advance the profession in the state.

It was not only in her professional life that Rourk served as a change agent. She delivered Meals on Wheels, volunteered at local nonprofits, and worked for social justice. She participated in the charrette of 1971 when Durham, North Carolina, faced school integration, an event memorialized in the recent movie “Best of Enemies.” She actively worked for civil rights with the League of Women Voters. Her minister, Mindy Douglas, wrote that Rourk was one of the first women elected to be an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Durham in 1987, paving the way for women in leadership in the church. She also was a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, a high honor bestowed upon North Carolinians who have made significant contributions to their communities through exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.

Rourk was devoted to her family. She and her beloved husband, M. Henderson Rourk, recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on August 20, 2020. Cooking, travel, social justice, gardening, quilting, reading and time with her beloved corgis were among Jane’s joyful occupations. Surviving are her children, Caroline Davis Rourk of Durham; Peter Javan Andrew Rourk and wife, Karen of Cedar Grove, NC; Elizabeth Rourk Hayden and husband, John, of Louisville, KY; grandson, Davis William Rourk of Charlotte; her sisters in law, Elizabeth Davis of Rougemont, NC; and Marie Rourk Harrison of Shallotte, NC. She was preceded in death by her husband Malcolm Henderson Rourk Jr., MD, and a son, Malcolm Henderson Rourk III.

Jane Davis Rourk obituary Rourk publication from 1996