(NEWS ARTICLE) Janet Lorraine Walker, a seamstress and interior decorator who worked from her South Toledo home for more than 50 years while raising six children, died at Parkcliffe Community, Toledo, on Friday.
Mrs. Walker, 82, had Alzheimer's disease, from which she had suffered since 1999, her son, Stuart Walker, said.
Mrs. Walker and her husband, Stanley, founded Jan-Stan Interiors in 1948, the year they married, and continued the business until 2000, when her illness and her husband's death became too much of a burden, son Stuart said.
She took up sewing while in 4-H Club. She graduated from Maumee High School in 1948.
"She was very interested in needlework and making things, and it just carried over," her son said.
The couple met at a school dance, "and it was pretty much over for them [in terms of other dates]" and they wed soon after.
Once married, she began sewing her husband's suits and clothes for him to wear for his new job as an accountant at the Jeep plant.
Her interest in 4-H continued long after high school, blossoming into a collaboration with her mother and sister, who mentored other youth as the Jolly 4-Hers.
She was born May 14, 1930, in Walbridge, but the family moved to what then was a rural area of Maumee.
After the Ohio Turnpike was built, the area north of the highway, which included their home, became part of Toledo, Mr. Walker said. The home had a workshop for interior decorating and design, where furniture covers, upholstery, draperies, and other projects were completed.
She had another side that did not involve sewing: She opened up her home as a shelter for young people who for whatever reason could not live with their parents. This "safe haven," as her son called it, went on for years. "She was a very generous person. She always wanted to help kids out from broken homes," he said.
She and her husband also helped them with tuition and other expenses. "They stayed with us and became part of our family," Mr. Walker said.
Her generosity was a product of her post-Depression upbringing and of a desire to help people in need.
She did not have hobbies outside work. "She poured her heart and soul into her work. She did jobs no one else wanted to do," he said.
Jan-Stan Interiors included not only Mrs. Walker and her husband but also her children and relatives. "All of us children helped out while growing up, as soon as we could master the sewing machine," her son said. Neighbors or relatives sometimes assisted on large projects, he said.
She was involved in the Soroptomist Society in the 1970s and '80s and, because of her husband's job, was part of the Jeep Management Retirees Association from 1990 to 1999.
She is survived by a son, Stuart Walker; daughters, Denise Adinaro, Debra Remer, Jean Gaitten, Sheila Monica, and Krista Luce; 17 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Visitation is to be from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Walter Funeral Home, 4653 Glendale Ave., where the Rosary is to be said at 7 p.m.
Final visitation is to be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, where a funeral Mass is to be held at 11 a.m.
Memorials are suggested to Parkcliffe Community or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.
Published in Toledo Blade on Jan. 7, 2013