RIP Jill Elizabeth Urban

Jill Elizabeth Urban, 76, passed peacefully in the arms of her beloved husband Kenneth Urban on September 25, 2021.

Jill was born in Edina, Minnesota, the oldest of eight children, to the late Janet Elizabeth Ryan and Paul J. Heinrich. Jill graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1967, and soon thereafter headed east to find and sail the finest sailing waters – found in Newport, RI.

She realized how fortunate she was to have grown up in a good neighborhood, with good families, friends, schools and fine community. It was her goal to help others as she had been helped along the way to achieve her accomplishments.

From her earliest years, Jill dedicated her time and energy to volunteering to serve and support others (crediting this work as recompense for the assistance others had rendered her). She began volunteering with the March of Dimes, then on to Planned Parenthood, Truesdale Hospital Women’s Auxiliary (Treasurer), Junior League, St. Michael’s Country Day Parent Teacher Association (Treasurer), Ida Lewis Yacht Club (Jr. Sailing Program Director), initiated the Monday Night Women’s Sailing Program at ILYC along with Katie Ahearne, Chair of the US Sailing National Jr. Women’s Sailing Championships (Leiter Trophy), and a member of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club Race Committee and New York Yacht Club Race Committee. Many summers Jill housed Junior Sailing Instructors in order to get the top coaches available for the Jr. Sailing Program.

Jill was an avid sailor and much of her life was dedicated to promoting youth and junior women’s sailing. In an effort to level the playing field in an otherwise co-ed sport, Jill developed and initiated the US Sailing National Jr. Women’s Double-handed Sailing Championship (Ida Lewis Trophy) underwritten by C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Later, Jill’s love of sailing also led her to work in the marine industry as a sales representative for Freedom and Legacy Yachts.

A competitor at heart, Jill enjoyed playing pickleball with friends as well as her grandson with more than just the average recreational spirit. She will always be remembered for that spirit, and by her children for her urging to “never take no for an answer.”

Jill is survived by her husband Kenneth P. Urban, her son Jens F. Leerssen
(Margy Gentile), San Francisco, CA, her daughter Anika E. Marriott (Chad Marriott) Lake Oswego, OR. Grandchildren Toby and Liza Marriott, Ken’s daughter Elizabeth Kuney (Aaron Kuney), Marietta, GA and his two granddaughters, Alexis and Charlotte Kuney.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 9:30 am in Jesus Saviour Church, 509 Broadway, Newport, RI.

In lieu of flowers, a contribution to Sail Newport Junior Sailing Community Program or the Ida Lewis Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program will continue Jill’s tireless efforts to inspire and promote more young women in the sport of sailing.


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