Janet Mary Bukovich-Underwood (1949 - 2014)

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  • "Oh boy.. This is tough. Hard to imagine really. I have..."
    - John Wilson
  • "JoAnn and Rena, I'll always remember Janet's vibrant..."
    - Nancy hemenway
  • "I was so sad to hear this news. Janet was a force of nature..."
    - Tory O'Connell
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    - Carol Timmons
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Janet Mary Bukovich-Underwood, age 65, born August 8, 1949, in Tacoma, Washington, passed away on August 27, 2014, in Richland, Washington. The daughter of Rudy and Marjorie Bukovich, Janet was raised in Ketchikan, Alaska and graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1967. In 1969, Janet married Robert (Tiny) Underwood from Ketchikan. They had one son, Lewis Donald Underwood. Her husband, a Vietnam Veteran, died in May 1971.

Janet had a thirst for education and acquired a BA in Biology, a MA in Teaching, and endorsements in health and fitness. She combined her love of science with teaching and in 1988 received her Masters of Teaching degree from UAS-Juneau. After her son graduated from Juneau -Douglas High School in 1987, Janet set her sights on world travel and for the next 15 years she was able to live in different countries experiencing local cultures on a personal level. Curious and inquisitive about life and people, Janet was always open to new adventures and like her father Rudy, the word "no" was an invitation to explore and investigate. Passionate about science and preserving our planet, Janet designed and taught many classroom projects to stimulate and encourage student interest….from aerospace studies, to growing food organically, to community service and recycling projects. Janet was always interested in how science could be used to entice learning and she taught in public and private schools, community college, and to youth in detention centers. Students, young and old, loved her classes and many kept in contact with her after she left the classroom.

Janet lived in and taught school in South America (Brazil), Africa (Cameroon) and Asia (China and Japan) and travelled extensively while on those continents. Four years ago, Janet returned to Alaska to teach in the rural schools of Tuluksak and Buckland. Janet had a strong, willful spirit and, when she wanted something, she was a force to be reckoned with. She refused to accept bad news or to allow the opinions of others to change her mind. In November 2012, Janet was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and although some doctors gave her only a few months to live, her determination and will to live was unwavering. Even at the end, those closest to Janet had come to believe that she could overcome her illness. She liked saying that she proved them wrong for almost two years.

In January of 2013, Janet moved to Kennewick, Washington, and lived with sister, JoAnn Henderson, and traveled to Seattle every few weeks for cancer treatments. Janet continued to travel in the U.S. and Mexico to visit friends and was especially happy to reconnect with many friends and family from Ketchikan and Washington State. She was relatively healthy and active until two weeks before her death. Janet is survived by her son, Lewis Donald Underwood; sister JoAnn Henderson, brother in law, Remond Henderson, niece, Audra Henderson and nephew, Sterling Henderson; and sister, Rena Bukovich-Notti, brother in law, Emil Notti, and nephews, David and Michael Notti.

Janet led a full life and was blessed to have many friends all over the world. A memorial gathering will be held in Ketchikan, Alaska, next spring or summer for the spreading of her ashes. Family and friends will be notified.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Oct. 5, 2014