Janet Werner

Janet Clare Werner (Gregory)

Sunday, April 24th, 1932 - Sunday, May 31st, 2020
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Janet Gregory Werner, 88, of Grand Rapids passed away on May 30, 2020, following a month-long battle with esophageal cancer. She died peacefully at the home of her daughter, under the tender care of Faith Hospice. Her last days were spent visiting with loving family and friends, listening to comforting music and gazing out into the sun-filled backyard.

Jan was born in Detroit on April 24, 1932 to the late Charles and Ann Gregory. She was predeceased earlier this year by her sister, Barbara Shaw. Jan graduated from Grosse Pointe High School in 1950 and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1954. At OWU she majored in elementary education and was a member of Delta Gamma sorority.

Jan married William Werner in Birmingham Michigan on June 21, 1958. A week later they moved into their modest craftsman-style home in Ann Arbor and remained in this “starter” home for 58 years. In 2016 they moved to Beacon Hill, a retirement community in Grand Rapids. Jan and Bill were married for nearly 62 years.

Jan’s teaching career spanned some 30 years - four years in Lyndhurst OH (where one of her students later became her niece), the balance in Ann Arbor, mostly at Angell School. She loved teaching second grade since, by that age, the children had developed a sense of humor. She enjoyed the mix of kids from the surrounding neighborhood and international children living on North Campus. A number of her students entered the classroom with little or no English. Jan loved the challenge.

At the time of her retirement, the public school system awarded each retiree a silver bowl. What does one do with a silver bowl? Jan and a fellow retiree decided to start the Silver Bowl Lunch group for retired teachers, a monthly get-together where each teacher fills her bowl with a salad or dessert to share with others. The group is still going strong.

Jan and Bill raised two daughters - Gwen (Mark) Potter of Atglen, PA and Diane Angell of Grand Rapids. They were blessed with eight grandchildren: Elsbeth (Nathan) Cool, Tess (Nick) Zanoni, Erick (Alyssa) Potter, Elena Potter, Claire Angell, Lydia Angell, Emilie Potter and Bryn Angell; plus five great-grandchildren.

Jan enjoyed listening to classical music, gardening, entertaining, potluck dinners, small group Bible study, water aerobics and yoga - especially yoga. She and Bill loved to travel, spending many summer weeks meandering through the backroads and small villages of western Europe’s alpine regions, walking trips through the hills and dales of England and Scotland, gathering with kids and grandkids in a remote Switt chalet, or, as age crept up on them, relaxing on a leisurely river cruise.

Especially memorable were the many fun times spent up North with family. Jan loved to walk the Lake Michigan shoreline, help the grandkids find Petoskey stones, climb to the top of Nub’s Nob ski slope, look for morel mushrooms, play cards and board games, and cook for the whole gang. A special event each summer was Sunday brunch at the Bay View Inn. After brunch Jan (“Grannie”) would bride the kids with mints to pose for the mandatory family photos. It was a special treat to ride in Grannie’s car, as she always had a supply of Mentos to share. The kids loved looking through their special photo albums Jan had made for each one. They adored their Grannie, but no more than she adored them. Each child could hardly wait to reach a height of 5 feet, so that they could be taller than their Grannie.

Jan loved to be among other people - to enjoy the company of longtime friends and to reach out to establish new friendships. She was a warm, upbeat, caring person, quick to smile, with a sincere interest in others. She was a very kind, giving person.

Jan and Bill were faithful members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor for nearly 45 years, where she taught Sunday school and served as an elder. Since moving to Grand Rapids, they have been regularly attending Fifth Reformed Church. For years Jan had a lovely handcrafted walnut plaque above her desk inscribed with a favorite verse from Psalm 46 “Be still and know that I am God.” Now she is still...and she knows.

Services of Remembrance will be held in the near future in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. Details will be posted on this page at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either: Beacon Hill Foundation, 1919 Boston St. SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506 or Little Traverse Conservancy, 3254 Powell Road, Harbor Springs MI 49740.
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