Janice Lee Van Engen, 67, of Fayetteville, passed away Feb. 23.
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Known as "Jan Van" to her friends, she was born in Chester and moved all over the country with her husband, Ronald J. Van Engen Sr., who preceded her in death. As they settled in new places for Ron's work with NASA and government contractors, Jan easily cultivated and maintained friendships. She was a retired nurse known for her flash and style, always with an eye for a good deal. Jan was also known for her generous heart and spirit, often helping those she encountered by providing a meal or a tank of gas. She invited scores of strangers into her home, providing the precious gift of a listening ear, and often sent or took presents to people who were sick.
A friend said, "Jan was the most direct and funniest person I had ever met." It was not uncommon to hear someone say that they felt closer to Jan than members of their own family. Friends were again amazed at Jan's indomitable spirit after a serious car wreck in which she and Ron were involved in 1999 left her hospitalized for two months, in intensive rehabilitation for several years and pursuing "getting my whole self back" ever after. Jan had suffered colon, liver and kidney injuries, lost her spleen, broken both arms and had a severe brain injury. It was the latter that proved most challenging, but which also caused her to be a great inspiration, with the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Resource Foundation asking Jan to write a book and serve as a spokesperson. During her ongoing recovery, Jan called on her own training as a nurse, as well as alternative treatments and the many "helps" she had brought to bear in the past for others.
Two and a half years after the accident she lost Ron to a heart attack. She also was preceded in death by her father, Jack Boyce Lee of Chester.
Surviving are son Ronald J. Van Engen (Alison) of Euless, Texas; grandchildren Cody and Joshua Myers of Brunswick, Ga.; mother Mildred B. Lee of Chester; sister Sandy James (Richard) of Canton, Ga.; sister Lynn Criscione of Spartanburg; brother Joel Lee (Jean) of Chester; brother Neil Lee (Lynn) of Chester; brother John Lee of Rio de Janeiro; and numerous nieces and cousins.
She was a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, where a funeral was held on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 11 a.m. Reverend Jamie Lambert was the officiate. The family did receive friends Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Mowell Funeral Home, Fayetteville (180 Jeff Davis Drive, Fayetteville, GA 30214). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Southwest Christian Care Hospice (www.swchristiancare.org), 7225 Lester Road, Union City, GA 30291.
Published in The News & Reporter on June 6, 2013