Janet Meehan was 12 years old when she saw "Nanook of the North" at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. She decided then that she wanted to live in Alaska. She never strayed from that dream, and years later persuaded her husband, Bill Rabich, to trade his plans of sunshine and sailboats for the Alaska adventure that pulled at her. |
After a few years of saving and planning, they packed their baby daughter into a World War II Jeep, drove cross-country and up the Alaska Highway. They settled in Anchor Point and built a cabin on the pond at 12.5 Mile.
While hunting, Bill discovered where they would homestead. He took Jan on a dog sled ride across the muskeg and up into the Caribou Hills. Following his instructions not to turn around until he told her to, Jan was amazed by the view she was finally allowed to see. "This," she said, "is where I want my house." That is where her house was built, and all the over-sized windows looked out over the flat muskeg to Cook Inlet and the mountains beyond. She spent the next few decades waiting for the sunny days that allowed the viewing of a bank of active volcanoes and the sparkling blue waters of the inlet.
Janet's love of travel did not abate after moving to Alaska. In summer 1964, she and Bill took their five children on a camping trip. A year and a half later, the family returned to the homestead. They had camped their way across the United States and lived in Puerto Rico. Later, after the children were grown, Bill and Jan made many trips to Belize and Mexico. Janet also traveled throughout the United Kingdom. She inhaled the history and culture of all the countries she explored.
In time, Janet returned to an urban lifestyle by moving to San Francisco. She accepted a job working for a vice president of the San Francisco Giants, and loved her apartment that overlooked the theater district. She hiked the hills as she looked at the Victorian Painted Ladies and enjoyed the Bay.
Upon returning to Alaska, Janet moved to Fairbanks and lived on the banks of the Tanana River. There, she experienced living in her first 50-below temperatures and the occasional flood that presented a challenge, not a concern. She easily made Fairbanks her home.
Janet was born in 1923 and died on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013.
She was preceded in death by Bill Rabich and her only son, Robert Rabich. Janet's daughters, Janet Brown, Chris Campbell, Holly Byerly and Alison Boyce, will continue to share the stories of her life and adventures with her grandchildren, Matthew and Nicholas Brown, Paige Byerly, and Douglas and Seth and Daniel Campbell; and sons-in-law, Dennis Boyce and Doug Campbell.
Janet Meehan was loved by many friends and all of those friends will miss her deeply.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Apr. 4, 2013