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Janice Kaminski (Westaby), a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, died on February 11, 2023, after a long, brave battle with ovarian cancer. Jan was born in Freeport, Illinois, on January 27, 1947, to Martha and Wilson Westaby, and was raised with her three sisters and two brothers on a dairy farm near Warren, Illinois. She attended Illinois State University at Normal where she met John, her husband of fifty-five years. They raised two wonderful children—Steven and Laura. Jan had several jobs as an accountant, meter maid, food service worker at a Madison middle school, and various positions at J.C. Penney’s. But her primary job was always being a loving mom that was very invested in her children, from making elaborate birthday cakes, being a girl scout troop leader, sewing elaborate Halloween costumes, to giving so much of herself to assure her children’s happiness. She retired in 2002 from J.C. Penney to selflessly devote her time as a day-care provider for her grandsons, Alexander and Nicholas Kaminski, whom she nurtured for fourteen years. In addition, Jan was also a caring cat mom.
Jan greatly enjoyed Zumba classes, gardening, baking holiday cookies, sewing, quilting, bowling, snow shoeing, kayaking, walking-hiking, and experiencing nature and wildlife. She was an active member of the Dairyland Walkers and loved to walk and bike through the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Jan especially relished annual vacation adventures hiking with her daughter, Laura, in national and state parks in the United States. A particular highlight for them was a three-week hiking excursion to New Zealand and Australia for Jan’s 70th birthday. Another special trip was hiking in Sedona, AZ, with Steve, Lynn, Laura, Alex, Nick, and Lynn’s Mom over Christmas in 2018, which included a side trip to the Grand Canyon. John and Jan also enjoyed weekly dinners with their son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons. Jan was one of the kindest persons you have every met and was always giving of herself while asking of nothing in return.
Jan was preceded in death by her grandmother, Elva Westaby; mother and father; brother, John; son, Steven; and brother-in-law, Kenny Eden. She is survived by her husband, John; daughter, Laura (fiancé Scott Snow); daughter-in-law, Lynn Kaminski; grandsons, Alexander and Nicholas; her sisters: Joanne (Troy) Sandlin, June (Kenny) Eden, and Joyce (Roger) Kent; her brother, James (Gail) Westaby; her sisters-in-law, Pat (John) Westaby and Susan (William) Noble; and many nephews and nieces.
During her last year, Jan found great comfort and loving care from several prolonged visits from Laura where they enjoyed many hikes in the Pheasant Branch Conservancy, as well as Devil’s Lake and kayaking in Lake Wingra. Jan also received caring assistance, visits, and phone calls from her daughter-in-law, Lynn, and grandsons, Alex and Nick, as well as many long telephone conversations with her sisters, sisters-in-law, brother, and several close friends. Jan stayed strong with her love of Zumba (that she did four times a week) and almost daily hikes through all the time of her chemo up until October of 2022 when the progression of her disease became too much. Laura was able to make Christmas cookies with Jan one last time, their annual tradition that Laura will always cherish, and see Laura’s boyfriend propose to her on Christmas Day. During Jan’s last weeks, Laura lovingly and painstakingly saw to all of her needs with the assistance of nurses and care givers from Agrace Hospice Care.
In lieu of flowers, Jan had asked that donations be made in her name to The Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, Wis. (pheasantbranch.org/memorial/). Pheasant Branch was where Jan found peace and joy. A celebration of life ceremony will occur in the Spring, in order to celebrate surrounded by the nature that Jan loved. A date will be announced later.
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