Janice (Bodenhoff) Smithers, 86, of Franklin died at her home on December 31, 2012. She was the wife of the late Austen Gifford Smithers who died in 1997. Born in Maplewood, New Jersey, March 10, 1926, the daughter of the late Chester and Leona (Ohlemacher) Bodenhoff, Mrs. Smithers was raised in Maplewood. She was a graduate of Columbia High School in Maplewood. Dancing as a professional was her dream. Accepted to Syracuse University, she decided instead to study dance in New York City, instead. She studied ballet with Russian masters at the Vilzak-Schallar School. Her first professional stage experience was as a character dancer in The Count of Luxembourg at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, New Jersey. The first Broadway show Jan danced in was in a revival of Showboat. Her character was the French girl in the Congress of Beauties. She went on to dance in Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway. Jan danced with the June Taylor dancers who performed on NBC TVs Musical Comedy Hour in addition to many other venues. Jan married Austen Smithers on April 24, 1951. The couple moved to Germany for one year while Austen served in the German Occupation. While Jan was raising her brood of children, she choreographed musical shows for the Chatham New Jersey Community Players. When the Smithers moved to Madison, New Jersey, Jan taught dance at Fairleigh Dickenson University and went on to teach ballet to children and adults at the Worth-Tyrell Dance Studio in Morristown, New Jersey for many years. In 1970, the Smithers family moved to Norfolk. Jan taught dance and exercise classes for children and adults there for 29 years. She ran the dance program called Summer Thing in Jamaica Plain in the 1970s. Two of her students from that program went on to dance the part of Clara in the Nutcracker with the Boston Ballet. In 1984, Jan joined the Franklin School of Performing Arts where she taught Ballet and Rhythm. She was the FSPA Dance Department Artistic Advisor. Jan initiated and staged the FSPA Christmas production of the Nutcracker Suite for many seasons. At 80 years old, Jan performed as the Grandmother in FSPAs production of the Nutcracker to rave reviews. In 1999, Jan moved to Franklin, Mass where she lived until her passing on New Years Eve. She is survived by her five children, Myndi Smithers of Long Valley, New Jersey, Christopher Smithers of Stafford, Virginia, Stephen Smithers of Westminster, Colorado, Michael Smithers of Hutchinson, Minnesota and Jennifer Mellen of Uxbridge, Mass. She is also survived by six grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. A memorial visitation will be held on Saturday January 12 in the Ginley Funeral Home of Franklin (www.ginleyfuneralhomes.com) 131 Main Street Franklin from 11: 00-2: 00 P.M. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in Jans memory to Franklin Performing Arts Company-Jan Smithers Scholarship, c/o Franklin School for the Performing Arts., 38 Main Street, Franklin, MA 02038.
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Published in Milford Daily News on Jan. 8, 2013