Janet Hawkes Henry born Janet Mae Lodge of Chagrin Falls, passed away on March 19, 2015. She was 86.
Janet was loved and admired by many who benefited from her wisdom and kind heart for over 86 years. She lived a long and memorable life and enjoyed many friendships, acquired and nurtured from her years in Robinson, Illinois, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Hudson, Naples and Chagrin Falls. Like many in her generation, she overcame a number of challenges in life. Most notably, she was preceded in death by Jack Henry, who left us seven months ago at age 89 after 23 years of marriage, Connie Machonis, who passed away after a difficult illness in 1988 after just a few years of marriage and Harry Hawkes Sr., who died suddenly in 1978 after nearly 30 years of marriage. They were all great men, a testament to Janet's character and desire to enjoy life no matter the hurdles thrown in her path.
Her legacy lives on in her three children: Catherine of Philadelphia, Allison who now lives in Orange and Harry Jr. of Hunting Valley (Cyndi) and three grandchildren Elizabeth, Lauren and Harry III and her nephew Alan Lodge (Mimi) and niece Ruth Arnold (David). She is also survived by her many step-children and grandchildren, David, Isaac and Alex Henry, Michael Henry, Susan Henry and Sarah, John, Natalie and Ian Bradford as well as Connie's children and grandchildren. And lastly, she is still loved by her dog Maggie, still waiting by the door for her to come home once again.
To understand our mom, we recall her early years. She was born at home in Bowling Green, Ohio on April 4, 1928, where legend has it, her nose was broken during the course of the delivery, requiring a bit of plastic surgery later in life. Her brother, David, was five years older and left home at age 16 for Purdue University and then the Navy, where he fought in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. Janet spent her high school years in Robinson, Illinois in the Southern part of the state, where summers were very hot and she developed a life-long love for fresh garden vegetables. She learned important economics lessons as a child during the depression and WWII, when the family fed homeless from their house, and she collected scrap metal and rubber for the war effort in a wagon pulled down the street. She also grew to deeply appreciate Abraham Lincoln and read many stories about his life, even giving her son, Harry, the nickname Tad, after Lincoln's favorite son.
Janet was very proud of her father and being a banker's daughter. Her father Arthur worked his way up the corporate ladder to become a bank president for the Second National Bank of Robinson, Illinois. She worked in the bank during the summers, first learning to count the pennies and later as a teller. She was quite proficient with money, which would become helpful later in life as a single mom. Living in a small town during the depression and WWII left a huge impression on Janet as she watched her father help the farmers and tradesmen asking for loans and advice.
Growing up, Janet was a bit of a tomboy and enjoyed biking and golf. Her love of golf came during her high school years when, after a bout with polio, she could not participate in regular gym class or play other sports. One of her favorite stories was playing golf at the Robinson Country Club and kicking a club member's ball into the hole on a blind par 3. Of course, the gentleman was thrilled with his "hole-in-one," not knowing about Janet Mae's secret, which her father sternly told her never to disclose. Her other sanctuary was the Robinson Public Library where Janet's love of books began, and continued throughout her life.
Janet was the original fisherman in the family. She could bait a hook, catch a fish and release it with ease, much better than her first husband Harry. Janet grew up near a big woods and spent many hours identifying bird calls, brought many animals home, including mice, salamanders, snakes, frogs, toads and insects. When she once went to summer camp, she left a note detailing how to feed her menagerie for her rather proper mother, Crystal, a task surely handed off to someone else. She also passed the many tests for Girl Scouts and became a troop leader. Her love of fishing and animals was passed off to her children, especially Harry who raised many animals in the house as a child and enjoys his working farm nowadays. She loved to tell the story about the long car trip to Illinois for her own mother's funeral where Tad brought a family of baby garter snakes in a small box in the back of the car, a fact discovered well into the trip.
One favorite family story was about the Easter peep she received as a young girl. Cute at first, the peep quickly grew into a full-sized chicken. Her father felt raising a chicken inside the city limits was not appropriate, so they soon took it to Mrs. Brown, who owned a chicken farm. Janet Mae wanted to make sure her chicken was easy to find so she tied a yellow ribbon around its neck. Before every visit, Crystal or Arthur would call to warn Mrs. Brown that Janet Mae was visiting, sending her scurrying into the yard to catch a chicken and tie a ribbon around its neck. Only at dinner one night did David break the news about the chicken's true plight.
Janet believed strongly in education and lifelong learning. It all started in high school, where Janet graduated as salutatorian of Robinson High School. Janet came from a long line of women with college degrees (including her mother and aunts), an unusual accomplishment for the time.
Janet went west for college where she finished her first year at the University of Colorado in Boulder and then came back to Ohio to finish her degree in education at Denison University. She was the last of 5 consecutive generations to attend Denison. One degree was not sufficient, however, and Janet returned to school in her forties earning a master's degree in sociology and an Educational Specialist Degree from Kent State. During that time in her life, she developed a deep interest in the challenges facing the deaf population and learned to sign as part of her education.
Janet embraced her education and even then must have been considered a nerd. In college, Janet would often type up her class notes or record them on file cards, underlining important points with a ruler, leaving no chance for any grade lower than an A. During her days at Kent, it was common for Allison and Tad to fall asleep to the typewriter tapping away late into the night as Janet finished yet another class paper. Tad in particular benefited from Janet's zest to get it right, when he would ask his mom to type his hand written notes for a paper and find it fully corrected and perfected in the morning.
After graduating from Denison, Janet joined the workforce as a Marketing Research investigator for Proctor and Gamble, a job she greatly enjoyed. She would travel via train to different cities and go house to house, surveying women about which products they used and why. While with P&G, she loved living in a large group house in Cincinnati and developed many friendships with women that would last throughout the course of her life. It was also during those years that her connection to Jack began. He was a young supervisor over her area and they would reunite at a reunion for that department many years later. She also, of course, met Harry in Cincinnati and were soon married and starting a young family.
Janet's later career at Region Ten Council on Alcoholism gave her a great deal of satisfaction bringing together her personal experiences and professional training. In that job, for 12 summers she led the Teen Institute where she brought together teens and educators at Kenyon College. She was the first education specialist in the State of Ohio and was given an award for her work.
Later in life, Jack and Janet very much enjoyed Elderhostel, an organization dedicated to lifelong learning opportunities for older adults. Janet's favorite trip was to New Zealand, where she and Jack honeymooned. They also spent eight months travelling the world, giving them many wonderful memories and stories to tell. She greatly enjoyed any book written by David McCullough. And even in her final days, she was preparing for yet another book club, reading a new book and taking notes, all without the benefit of reading glasses, a modern miracle for a woman 86 years old.
Janet also loved teaching and music. She played the piano and flute, and had an excellent ear. She particularly loved playing arrangements by George Shearing, such as Autumn Leaves, and enjoyed listening to the piano arrangements played by Ferrante and Teicher, and the tunes of George and Ira Gershwin. After her grandchildren were born and started playing instruments, she bought a small electric piano to accompany them.
One of Janet's strongest attributes was the ability to make and keep friends. Friends and family were very important to Janet. They sustained her during many difficult years and time away; and she repaid the favor to countless women suffering similar life challenges. She often updated her address book and stayed in touch with people from all areas of her life, especially from her early years as a young, happy wife in Mariemont, Ohio and extending through her later busy days in Pittsburgh and Hudson and then retired years in Naples and Chagrin Falls. She enjoyed planning lunches with friends, going to book and current events clubs and catching up over the telephone.
Janet also relished time with loved ones, whether a vacation in Canada, Lake Chautauqua, Jersey shore or entertaining family for visits in Florida or Chagrin. She and Jack were great entertainers and enjoyed planning busy days and fun dinners with their family surrounding them. Janet was a very proud grandmother, asking many questions, listening to the children's stories and delighting in their concerts at the end of another family event.
Of course, if Murder She Wrote, Taxi, The Closer or Mash was on TV, all family and friends needed to call back or delay their visit.
Despite her love of friendship, Janet was a wicked game player and enjoyed victory. She excelled at Clue, where she always won. She would not just win the game, but she would know what cards we were each holding. We could never quite determine how she did it! In addition, she loved and shined at playing bridge. She and Jack were a formidable team and one or both would typically win when they played in a group. Later in life during family events, she enjoyed playing Apples to Apples with her grandchild, sitting around the kitchen table after another wonderful meal. Lastly, our mom had a unique but good golf game. She had a specially made 9 wood that she would use endlessly around the course until she got close enough to the hole to chip and put for a respectable score. Slow and steady was her game and she played it well.
With family and friends, often came food, and Janet was an excellent cook. Janet was a girl from the Midwest. She loved corn on the cob and was very discriminating on how to evaluate the perfect ear of corn. She loved salads and we ate many tomatoes, often with just a touch of salt and pepper. Her first husband, Harry, had no aptitude for gardening and once pulled up all her tomato plants thinking they were weeds! She was an outstanding cook and we had many favorite meals as children that she would readily prepare. Our favorite dish was her secret hot fudge sauce over a peppermint ice cream pie.
Although an excellent cook, she preferred to dine out (much to her husbands' dismay). She often liked to finish a meal with a cup of coffee, sending her "busy" son into despair. She would order the coffee and then slowly stir it and sip it while Tad fussed and fumed at the table or went for yet another walk with his dad.
Although she never caught a lobster she loved to eat them and could pick two lobsters clean in record time. She loved lobsters so much she used them as a decorating motif in her early marriage years. She has lobster ashtrays, pictures, napkins, towels, you name it we had it.
Janet had wonderful taste and was a beautiful woman. She was a lifelong shopper and had a nose for bargains that was undefeated! She had an uncanny sense of where to look and how to buy quickly and efficiently.She had a sense of style, color and proportion that followed her throughout her life. She enjoyed dressing up and having her regular Friday hair appointment to touch up her blond, elaborately coiffed hair. Some of us did not inherent that gene but thankfully Cyndi, had the same passion and Janet reveled in any gift she received from Cyndi's store, knowing she was wearing the latest fashion. She extended her sense of style into her decorating that she greatly enjoyed with each of her husbands. Christmas was a particularly joyous time and opportunity to decorate the house and trim the tree.
Also, Janet had a million dollar smile, she seldom took a bad photograph and was a charming woman throughout her life, a quality that never diminished with age. It is that memory that we want to hold close to our hearts as we say our final farewell.
Lastly, Janet lived her life by a number of principles that we hope to all learn from and carry forward:
a�� She had a strong sense of justice, and Abraham Lincoln was her hero.
a�� She worked to improve the status of women, and belonged to P.E.O. , a philanthropic organization where women CELEBRATE the advancement of women; EDUCATE women and MOTIVATE women to achieve their highest aspirations.
a�� She believed we should all maintain an interest in the world around us, belonging to the Current Events Club in Chagrin Falls, watching the nightly news and subscribing to many news magazines
a�� She believed in being: Dependable, honest, helpful to others, caring and loving to family and close friends
a�� She believed in the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like others to treat you
a�� She thought we should always try to do our best
a�� She believed in a higher power
a�� God loves you
Calling hours will be Saturday, March 21st, from 3 to 5 pm at the Brown Forward Funeral Home at 17022 Chagrin Blvd., Shaker Heights, Ohio. Memorial services will be held on Sunday March 22nd at 2:30 pm at the Federated Church chapel, 76 Bell St., Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Janet Henry to: P. E. O. Foundation 3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, 50312.
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