Janet Loren Whitney, PhD, 81, of Chagrin Falls, died on November 18, 2022, at Hospice of the Western Reserve, David Simpson House. Janet was a source of unconditional love and support to those who crossed her path, whether sitting at the bedsides of her patients who had no family on holidays or sharing endless giggles and joy with those she loved. She will be remembered for her intelligence, beauty, sharp wit, keen sense of humor, impeccable style, and her ability to charm everyone she met. Janet was uniquely ahead of her time and yet rooted in traditional notions of etiquette and sophistication. She was the complete package.
Born on February 24, 1941,in Cleveland, Ohio to Betty Fish and Franklin Loren Whitney, Janet (“Jannie”) spent the first 10 years of her life in Cleveland Heights until the family moved to Westfield NJ. She eschewed the typical path for women of that time, so instead of going to Rutgers when she graduated from high school in 1958, she traveled to Chicago to study drama at Northwestern University, even befriending a then-undiscovered Ann Margret. She received her degree in 1962 and lived in New York City working at Burson Marsteller Public Relations, and in Italy for a young family.
Ultimately, her passion for helping others led her to pursue her Masters’ Degree in speech pathology at Case Western Reserve University (“CWRU”). She worked at CWRU for many years as a teacher, and, simultaneously, as a clinician and head of the aphasia program at the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center. Janet then pursued her PhD in speech pathology at the University of Pittsburgh and moved to Miami, Florida, where she chaired the department of speech pathology at the VA Hospital.
Janet had the gifts of empathy and understanding which helped in her tireless work advocating for Vietnam veterans, stroke victims, and children with speech impediments. She believed in the importance of helping others live with autonomy, dignity, and choice –regardless of their circumstances – and she devoted her professional life to developing cutting edge compensatory mechanisms for adults with language barriers due to neurological disabilities. When she retired, Janet moved back to Cleveland to be closer to her family and friends. Her special gift with people, especially with children, led her to volunteer as a Kindergarten aide in the Cleveland Public Schools.
A shining light who loved life, Janet enjoyed retreating to and sharing her beloved family farm with friends and colleagues for picnics and celebrations. She had a deep love of cats and dogs, was a faithful fan of the Westminster Dog Show, and relished reading The New Yorker and watching Animal Planet, CNN, and Golf.
Janet was the epitome of grace and class – demure yet devilish, sweet yet spicy, soft yet feisty, stunningly beautiful, and smart as a whip. She was generous, giving, and always forgiving. And no matter the situation, she wore a smile that melted hearts. A loyal friend, and enthusiastically single to the end, she had her last “date” at David Simpson House, just days prior to her death.
Known as “Tante” or “Tantine” to her family, she adored and was adored byher nieces, nephews, and grands, and she traveled to meet the newest, named after her beloved late brother John (“Jack”) (Kathleen) – three weeks before her death. She is survived by her brother, Richard (“Dick”) (Chantal); her nieces Jennifer (Frank), Loren (Daniel), and Katherine (Issam); her nephews, James (Kimberly), Ian (Julie), and Andrew (Laura); her grand-nieces, Taylor, Eleanor, and Lena; and her grand-nephews, Benjamin, Aidan, Evan, Oliver, Ryan, Ethan, and John.
The family sincerely thanks Hamlet at Chagrin Falls, Hospice of the Western Reserve, Dino Palmieri Salon at La Place, all of Janet’s physicians and care providers, and her friends – her family of choice. It takes a village and Janet was fortunate and grateful to have had the best.
There will be a private family graveside service. The family prefers that those who wish please consider donations in Janet’s name to Hospice of the Western Reserve (www.hospicewr.org), PO BOX 72101, Cleveland, OH 44192; the Cleveland Animal Protective League (clevelandapl.org), 1729 Wiley Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113 or City Dogs of Cleveland (through Friends of City Dogs Cleveland,https://friendsofcitydogscleveland.com), PO BOX 771625, Lakewood, OH 44107.