Jeannette (Jan) Fritschel MacDougal, 86, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family on August 2, 2019 in Charleston, South Carolina. Jeannette was born November 9, 1932 in Scotia, NY, the daughter of Eugene H. and Lucille Fothergill Fritschel. She was a graduate of Scotia High School and Tobé‑Coburn School for Fashion Careers in New York, and had attended The University of Iowa.
After moving to Charleston in 1969 Jan truly made the lowcountry her home. A well-known Registered Historic Tour Guide in Charleston since 1973 and a Senior Garden Guide at Middleton Place, she delighted in sharing the history of Charleston. For many years she worked as a docent and administrator at the Nathaniel Russell House Museum and as the flower arranger during the Historic Charleston Foundation Festival of Houses and Gardens. She coordinated Glorious Gardens Tours and was a Licensed Manufacturer for Historic Charleston Foundation.
Jan helped train tour guides for the City of Charleston, especially about the plants found in our lowcountry gardens. Starting with a request from the Historic Charleston Foundation to write a book on local flowers, Jan combined her interest in photography with her skills as a gardener to create a book that is a cheerful commentary on the beauty of the Carolina Lowcountry, Charleston in Bloom (1991). She founded Oak Manor Press in order to publish the book and have better control of the publishing and distribution process, including inspecting each color separation as the proofs came off the press locally. She said that she knew it would be right when the photo of the Spanish Moss came out the right color.
Jan served on the board of the Lowcountry Land Trust, was a National Council Flower Show Judge, a New York State Horticulture Judge, and Garden Club President. In 2007 she was the winner of the 1830 Award from the Charleston Horticultural Society. Upon bestowing the award, the society said :
“Jan MacDougal's talent and knowledge of horticulture combined with her commitment and passion for the preservation of historic gardens and landscapes have proved invaluable and have left an important legacy for the entire community. She has greatly enriched the Charleston community through her writing, lectures, garden tours and personal contributions to many gardening events and horticultural activities in the city. Jan continually strives to increase her botanical knowledge, constantly works to perfect her wonderful garden, volunteers tirelessly to assist our horticultural community in any way and shares all of her expertise, and frequently her plants in an enthusiastic and willing manner... she is a reflection of her garden in many ways--- warm, creative and a source of pleasure.”
An optimist by nature, indefatigable by DNA, literal and meticulous by training, all these attributes came into focus whenever Jan began a new endeavor. As owner of a diversified business called Jan MacDougal Creates, she offered services such as flower arranging, slide programs of Charleston’s architecture and flowers, washing and ironing of fine linens and heirloom fabrics, and guiding visitors to area plantations and the historic city with its charming gardens.
Many persons knew her through her drapery and antique linens business. Her expertise was in cleaning, stain removal and restoring antique and heirloom linens. Few stains refused to yield to her secret “natural” recipes; the main secret ingredient (she told a son) was “bravery.” Jan was also well known for exquisitely ironing large heirloom embroidered linen table cloths, and she had whole room filled with a giant wool-padded table just for ironing large items. Her prices were low because she loved working with the linens, considering it a privilege and joy to see them, touch them, and restore them.
Mrs. MacDougal was an award-winning flower arranger and a stellar horticulturalist. She lectured and taught flower arranging techniques for 50 years. For more than forty years her garden-grown flowers have graced the covers and interiors of many national magazines. The first magazine to feature one of her bouquets on the cover was Gourmet, showing a large urn overflowing with azaleas, wisteria, tulips, and dutch iris. Other cover credits are Signature, Southern Accents, House & Garden, Signatures, Antiques, W Magazine, catalogs of Baker Furniture, Historic Charleston Foundation Reproductions and Caswell-Massey. Her flower arrangements have also appeared in Southern Living, House & Garden, Modern Bride, Southern Accents, Antiques, and W Magazine.
When Prince Charles of England visited Charleston in 1990, Jan MacDougal arranged the flowers throughout the Roper House, where he stayed, using only her own garden-grown flowers. She said, “There are no flowers that could be enjoyed more by the Prince of Wales and convey the true feeling of Charleston than the flowers that come from our own gardens.” She was particularly proud that W Magazine carried the story of the preparation for the prince and of Jan arranging the flowers in the double drawing room.
Jan loved to travel and had a particular fondness of Japan, perhaps from studying ikebana for so many years.
Jan was predeceased by her husband John Gray MacDougal, a retired General Electric Company executive, and is survived by three sons: John Mochrie MacDougal (Renata) of St. Louis, Paul Duncan MacDougal (Mary) of Raleigh, and Kent Cameron MacDougal (Patricia Dennis) of Yonges Island; and four grandchildren: Christopher MacDougal (Samantha) of James Island, Megan Jornigan (Justin) of Marion, North Carolina, Moira MacDougal (Timotheos Tan) of Washington DC, and Olivia MacDougal of Boston. Jan also leaves behind her sister, Doris F. Breed of Brea, California.
In lieu of flowers, a donation in Jan's name may be made to the Lowcountry Land Trust, 635 Rutledge Avenue, Charleston, SC 29403, or to the organization with which you most associate her.
Remembrances of Jan’s life and expressions of sympathy and may be viewed or submitted in the guestbook.