Biographical / Historical
Rebecca Sinclair Janney was born May 6,1896, in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of O. Edward Janney and Anne B. Webb and a birthright member of Baltimore Monthly Meeting. She was the granddaughter of Joseph and Rebecca (Sinclair) Turner, weighty Baltimore Friends involved in social causes and the founding of Swarthmore College. Her parents were also active in Quaker concerns; her father retired from his medical practice in 1907 to devote himself to social causes.
Rebecca Janney attended Goucher College for one year, then graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1918 and finished a nurse's training course at Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia. Pa., in 1920. In February 1921 she left for Poland to serve as a typhus nurse and child refugee worker under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), where she met Harry Garland Timbres, a fellow Quaker relief worker. Harry Timbres was born on April 3, 1899, in Missouri, but raised in Canada. He attended Leland Stanford University for a year and joined the Society of Friends and then transferred to Haverford College in Pennsylvania where his position as a conscientious objector was more welcomed. As a C.O. he was assigned to Poland in March 1921. Rebecca and Harry soon began their courtship, during which they enjoyed the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore ("Gurudev") who influenced Harry's own poetry.
They were married by civil service in Dansig and then by Quaker service on March 29, 1922, in Warsaw, Poland. They were immediately sent to Russia to aid in famine relief, returning to the U.S. in November of the same year. Harry Timbres earned a medical degree at Johns Hopkins in 1928, planning to return to Russia to practice medicine. To help pay for medical school, the couple lectured and performed Russian and Polish folk dances. They had three daughter: "Nancy" Anne Janney Timbres (1923-1927), "Nicky" Eleanor Carter Timbres (1924-1989), and "Nadya" Rebecca Sinclair Timbres (born 1928). While the couple awaited the issue of visas, they spent the five year interval in England and India and then in Baltimore where Harry was on the staff at Johns Hopkins. In India (1931-1934), they joined Rabindranath Tagore in Bengal and organized a medical cooperative, but had to return to America due to Harry's continuing problems with malaria. In 1936, Harry Timbres left for Russia to work towards the eradication of malaria. His family, including two small daughters, joined him soon after and lived in Soviet Russia until Harry's death of typhus, complicated by malaria, on May 12, 1937.
Rebecca Timbres returned to America and earned a M.A. in Social Work from Columbia University in 1941. She worked for the AFSC in Philadelphia and in 1943 became Dean of Nursing at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. She was married (second) to Edgar Sydenham Clark (1885-1961) on July 2,1943, at Providence Monthly Meeting (United), Media, Pa., and the couple moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1947, where Rebecca worked as a medical social worker. Edgar Clark died May 12, 1961, and Rebecca Timbres Clark moved first to California and then Media, Pa. On May 4, 1963, she was married (third) to Richard Robb Taylor (1901-1974), a member of Gunpowder Monthly Meeting, Maryland. They divorced in 1970, and Rebecca resumed her former married name of Rebecca Timbres Clark and moved to Moorestown, NJ, where she continued to serve on various Quaker boards and committees. In 1972-73, she served briefly as a member of the Board of Directors of Friends Hall at Fox Chase, a Friends Retirement Home in Fox Chase. She died February 7, 2000, at Medford Leas, a retirement community in New Jersey.