Janet Helen Gaynor Janak, born October 3, 1928, in Plymouth, Wisconsin, grew up in Richland Center, Wisconsin, and died September 18, 2022, in Denver, Colorado at age 93, two weeks and a day short of her 94th birthday.
The first child and first daughter of Leo Gaynor and Leona Gaynor [Burkhart], Jan is survived by her three children, Mary Janak, Peter Janak [Cheryl Sedivec], Kathy Janak, grandson Kenneth Janak, and sister, Ronnie Stoltz. She was preceded in death by her husband, Peter S. Janak, and her brother, Gerald Gaynor.
In 1949, Jan graduated as a Registered Nurse from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Rochester, Minnesota. Eager to experience the world outside her small town, she joined the Air Force Nurses Corps, and served two years during the Korean War as the flight nurse on planes transporting wounded troops from overseas to hospitals in the United States.
After marrying her husband, an Air Force pilot who flew the medical transport planes (and transport in World War II and the Berlin Airlift), Jan resigned from the Air Force because at that time married couples could not serve concurrently. If not for this, she would have stayed in the Air Force because she loved its emphasis on doing things to a high standard, its values, and the camaraderie.
Jan moved with her family to Denver, Colorado, where she raised her children and worked as a registered nurse in two Denver hospitals over many years. After retiring from nursing, Jan was her husband’s caregiver until he died. After his death, among the things she enjoyed doing was volunteering at the Friends of St. Andrew’s Soup Kitchen into her “80 years young” stage of life. She was also an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal and books. She always read the last page of a book first, which she said let her enjoy the book even more.
Throughout her life, Jan made friends everywhere she went, from the kiosk servers at Costco to people she met on her neighborhood walks. Family and friends loved conversing with her sometimes late into the evening because she was engaging, intelligent, knew about current events and asked interesting questions. One person, his face lighting up, said, ‘Oh! I love Jan! She’s a real firecracker!”
Jan “loved a good party” (a common phrase of hers) and socializing. She enjoyed Dixieland jazz music and going to jazz concerts featuring the Jim McCullum band. Jan was always ready to go out to eat and never met a dessert she didn’t like -- she read the dessert menu before the main course!
Jan was a baseball fan and she loved animals, especially dogs, and especially beagles. She was “mom” to four beagles in the family (not all at one time): Barney, Chip, Max, and Baxter.
She worked very hard at staying active physically and mentally and always looked sharp, from her coiffed hair to her modern fashion style with coordinated outfits and jewelry, even at home. She never looked or acted her actual age. Everyone who met her thought she looked 10 to 15 years younger!
Jan had a deep personal relationship with God. She cared passionately about doing the right thing and helping people be the best they could be. She was fair, strong, courageous, generous, compassionate, profoundly loving, and always thought of others first until her last breath. As one of her closest friends said, “she was truly one of a kind.”
A viewing will be held Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 4-6 p.m., and a rosary from 6 – 6:30 p.m., at Horan & McConaty, 11150 E Dartmouth Ave., Aurora, CO 80014. A funeral mass will be held Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 4930 Montview Blvd., Denver, CO 80220, followed by a reception at the church from 11 – 12:30 p.m., with the burial at 2 p.m. at the Fort Logan National Cemetery, 4400 W. Kenyon Ave, Denver, CO 80236. Relatives and friends are welcome to all these events. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to these charities are appreciated: Colorado Beagle Rescue,
http://www.coloradobeaglerescue.org/ , and Canine Companions (please specify the veterans support program of Canine Companions), https://canine.org/location/southwest/chapter/rocky-mountain-chapter/ .