HENNIKER – Janice Helen (Jilka) McElroy passed away at her family home in Henniker, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, after a year-long bout with advanced endometrial cancer. Her family was at her side.
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Janice was born in Topeka, Kan., on Dec. 12, 1937, to Rudolph R. and Josephine (Kern) Jilka. She attended elementary school in Salina, Kan. and high school in Denver. She attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude in chemistry before going to the University of Cologne, Germany, as a Fulbright Scholar in biochemistry. She earned her MAT in biology at Johns Hopkins University and later chaired the science department at the Bishop's School in La Jolla, Calif., before earning her Ph.D. in human behavior at the U.S. International University.
Her educational experience and professional life were marked by recognition of her leadership skills and her commitment to civil rights, women's issues, and addressing climate change. She was active in education, teaching in public and private high schools, managing college programs of non-traditional women students, and holding leadership roles in several colleges. Active in the American Association of University Women (AAUW) while living in Pennsylvania, she held the offices of the Allentown branch president, president of the Pennsylvania State Division, and Women's Issues chair on the National AAUW Board of Directors. She later served as the research director and publishing editor of the book, Our Hidden Heritage: Pennsylvania Women in History, prepared by the Pennsylvania Division of the AAUW for the state's tri-centennial.
Janice was appointed as an advisor to the governor of Pennsylvania and served in state government as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women from 1988-95. During that time, she established the Leadership Development Institute in State Government, a training program for women (and now men) that has continued to the present day.
In 1999, Janice moved to Henniker, to serve as assistant to the president and director of strategic planning at New England College. She joined the development staff at Colby-Sawyer College in 2005 as its grants manager and retired at the end of December 2008.
Janice joined the Henniker Rotary Club in 2000 and served as its president in 2004-05. She served as a district assistant governor for three years, as the district Rotary Foundation chair, as a faculty member of the Rotary Leadership Institute and as the district 7870 governor for 2011-12. During this time, she raised the funding for a Rotary Foundation matching grant of $412,450 to aid victims of Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont. She received the Community Service Award from the New England Community Action Association for this effort in 2013.
Janice is survived by her husband of 46 years, James D. McElroy of Henniker. Also surviving are her daughter, Helen McElroy, of Chicago; her son, Bryan McElroy, of Denville, N.J.; and her sister, Joan Luft, of Indianapolis; as well as a niece, nephew and several cousins.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 1, at 1 p.m. at the Henniker Congregational Church, 33 Maple St. (Rte. 114), in Henniker.
Burial will be at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the PDG Janice H. McElroy Scholarship Fund c/o The Rotary Club of Henniker, Box 695, Henniker, N.H. 03242.
The Holt-Woodbury Funeral Home & Cremation Service is assisting the family. For more log on to holtwoodburyfh.com.
Holt-Woodbury Funeral Home
3 Hall Avenue
Henniker, NH 03242
Published in The Concord Monitor on Jan. 29, 2014