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Janis ABERNATHY Obituary

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ABERNATHY, Janis JANIS MARIE BASISTA ABERNATHY Janis Marie Basista Abernathy went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, December 13, 2012 after fighting ovarian cancer for three years. She was 67. She is rejoicing in heaven with her family that predeceased her. Her mother, Mary E. Basista, her father, John A. Basista, Jr., her brother, Elliot John Basista and her grandparents, Michael and Suzanne Hresko and John and Mary Basista, Sr. Janis grew up in Whitaker, Pennsylvania, a small town outside of Pittsburgh. She graduated from West Mifflin High School in 1963, then received a degree in psychology from Muhlenburg College. After graduation her first goal was to find a job and a new place to live and that was New York City. Her first job was at the Bank of New York on Wall St. as an assistant investment counselor which was a loaded title for a clerk. After a short time there, she had the opportunity to go to Geneva, Switzerland with Drexel, Harriman, Ripley to work on the syndication of Berney Cornfeld's International Overseas Services. She completed the project in Brussels before returning to New York to continue working with Drexel. About 5 years later, Mrs. Abernathy moved to Atlanta to work with Bear Stearns as an assistant sales associate and later became a corporate bond sales person covering accounts in the southeast. In addition to her sales work, she was in charge of community affairs. In that capacity, she coordinated two events where Bear Stearns sponsored the Bear Stearns Maiden Chase at the Atlanta Steeplechase in 1980 and 1981. Janis changed careers in 1982 and became the first Executive Director of the World Trade Club Atlanta, an international business organization that provided business services to its members worldwide. She had the opportunity to travel the world meeting dignitaries and other Executive Directors to better serve the membership. In April 1990, thanks to an answer to prayer, Janis met the love of her life, Tom Abernathy who became her husband and with whom she shared many happy years. They took wonderful trips and traveled the world. They enjoyed entertaining and hosted many parties. The Abernathy's had a Christ centered marriage where they gave selflessly to one another. Mrs Abernathy's third career was as the Executive Director of the Starlight Children's Foundation where she planned distractive entertainment programs for seriously ill children. After Janis retired, she began to volunteer. Her first job was with Leading the Way Ministry with Dr. Michael Youssef. She served for 11 years in various administrative capacities including orchestrating thank you phonathons to donors and coordinating and overseeing all volunteers. In 2006, she began doing an outreach program entitled Raising Expectations for the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs. The children attended various theater productions, and visited many sites around Atlanta. In club programs were also conducted with storytellers, the Center for Puppetry Arts and a visit from team mascots and the Falcon cheerleaders. The most significant program was creating Vacation Bible School at the clubs. Mrs. Abernathy organized these programs for six years and was surprised on February 27, 2012 to be awarded the National Award of Merit from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. While she quietly did her work, she didn't realize how much it impacted hundreds of inner city children's lives. Mrs. Abernathy was an event planner at heart. In that capacity, she served as the head of the wedding committee at the Church of the Apostles for 20 years and she was known as the Neighborhood Networker at Grant Estates where she planned their spring picnic and fall progressive dinner. She enjoyed life to the fullest. She is survived by her husband, Thomas E. Abernathy, a stepdaughter, Elizabeth Poindexter, son-in-law, John Poindexter and twin grandchildren, Robert and Katherine Poindexter. Janis had the good fortune of having three goddaughters with whom she had a very close relationship since their birth and she leaves behind, Carrie Lynn Hutton of Seattle, Washington, Janis Carole Chartier of Reading, Pennsylvania and Abigail Spangel Perry of Wilmington, North Carolina. A celebration of life service will be held on Monday, December 17th at The Church of the Apostles, 3585 Northside Parkway, NW at 2:00 pm with a reception immediately following at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs at 1190 West Druid Hills Drive, Suite 150, Atlanta, GA 30329.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Dec. 15, 2012
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