Janet Jean (Mirijanian) Cragin

Janet Jean (Mirijanian) Cragin
May 15, 1934 - April 24, 2014

Teacher and performer Janet Cragin passed away peacefully with her family on April 24, 2014, after a short illness. She grew up in Fitchburg, the eldest daughter of Krikor and Shakie (Manooshian) Mirijanian. She graduated from Fitchburg High School in 1952, and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, 1952-'53. She earned a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Special Education from Fitchburg State College in 1958.

Janet's first teaching job was at Fitchburg's Richardson Road School, a two-room school house. She had the children reading the newspaper, helping one another and singing in the classroom. At year's end, every student was reading above grade-level.

In 1964, she began teaching four and five year olds at Applewild School. She also taught drama and performing arts to all ages, and carried on as a substitute teacher for another decade beyond her 2000 retirement.

Her classroom at Applewild was filled with colors, spider plants, books, a science table, "Artist of the month," and she felt no child was ever too young or too different to learn anything… from science to calligraphy to often pointed analyses of consumer culture. ("Do you really want that or did you just see that on television?")

She married Donald Cragin in Leominster in 1958 and moved to Lunenburg where their daughter, Sally Hope was born in 1960, and a son, Harold Jonathan Krikor followed in 1962.

Janet's first role with Fitchburg's Stratton Players was Laura in The Glass Menagerie launching a long and distinguished career at the theater (including 50 years of roles opposite local actor Bob Blake, who played Tom in that production).

She appeared in regional summer stock and in 1970 won the first of two New England Theatre Conference Best Actress awards for the role of Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with her children as the "no-neck monsters." The second NETC award was for her role in "Habeas Corpus" in 1981. She directed more than 50 shows at Stratton and loved the work of A.R. Gurney and Neil Simon.

She served on the Board of Stratton since 1969, including many years as chairman. She also appeared as the American Muse in Barbara Crocker's script for Fitchburg's 1964 Bicentennial Pageant. In 2011, she and Sally began Riverfront Children's Theatre where she co-wrote and directed four shows.

In Lunenburg, Janet served as Library Trustee for many years, and directed the Bicentennial Pageant in 1978 and the Lunenburg's 250th Anniversary Pageant in 2003.

She was a founding member of the Fitchburg Cultural Alliance, and a frequent host on FATV's "First Reading." She was an enthusiastic teacher and student in the ALFA program at FSU. She was a longtime member of Fitchburg Art Museum, and volunteered at countless events in the community: "If you need another set of hands," was her offer to all.

Fitchburg Public Schools with the Fitchburg Cultural Alliance established the Janet Cragin Arts Award for middle school students: Janet has personally awarded dozens of medallions to recognize extraordinary student accomplishment in art, music and theatre. The Janet M. Cragin kindergarten classroom at Applewild's Marshall Building carries the inscription: "And gladly would she teach."

Janet's lifelong love of music ranged from hymns to show tunes. She sang in the girls and adult choirs at Christ Church, and was a member of the Chapel of All Saints in Leominster for more than 50 years. She returned to Christ Church after All Saints' closing. She adored nature and enjoyed turning over rocks and visiting Coggshall Park with her grandchildren. She travelled widely with her beloved companion of 30 years, the late Marty Markarian of Chelsea.

In her greatest role as "Grammy", Janet leaves five grandchildren, Jet and Christopher Cragin Warner, the children of Sally Cragin and Chuck Warner of Fitchburg, and Austin, Colin, and Benjamin Cragin, the children of Hal Cragin and Lucie Aime Cragin of Pasadena, California. She leaves her beloved brother, George Mirijanian of Fitchburg, and beloved sisters, Mary Trainor of Hinsdale, Illinois, Linda Grillo and Eileen Mirijanian of Seal Beach, California, and Joyce Ladley of Long Beach, CA; cousins, nieces, nephews, and dear friends too numerous to count.

CRAGIN -- Her Funeral will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014, at 10:00 a.m at Christ Church, 569 Main St., Fitchburg, MA 01420. Burial will be private on Monday, May 5, 2014, in the North Cemetery, Lunenburg, MA. Calling hours will be from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. on Friday, May 2, 2014 in the Lunenburg Chapel of the Sawyer-Miller-Masciarelli Funeral Home, 763 Mass Ave., Lunenburg, MA 01462. In Lieu of Flowers, Janet's Family asks that Memorial Contributions be made in her name to either, the Stratton Players, P.O. Box 2122, Fitchburg, MA 01420 or to the Montachusett YMCA, 55 Wallace Ave., Fitchburg, MA 01420.

See www.masciarellifamilyfuneralhomes.net for further information.

Funeral Home

Sawyer - Miller - Masciarelli FH - Lunenburg
763 Mass. Ave.  Lunenburg, MA 01462
(978) 345-6778

Published in Sentinel & Enterprise on Apr. 26, 2014