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Janet Heron

1956 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
JANET HERON Nurtured and blossomed in Chico October 21, 1956 - January 21, 2018 Dr. Janet Heron Asay Miller, age 61, died Sunday January 21, 2018 after a four month battle with cancer. A memorial for Janet was held on February 24, 2018 in Dover, DE. Janet Heron, 16 years old, a pretty, petite young lady was sexually harrassed by a middle-aged local man on the banks of the Amazon River as her family walked along a narrow clay-brick street. The man leered, smirked; she felt "sick inside, dirty." She was not in physical danger for she was with family, but she felt violated, her privacy invaded. She walked so the family blocked his view. The next time the family walked the street he again leered; she became angry, fixed him with an intense vehement glare, a silent, piercing, visual command to "Back Off!" For a long moment he continued to stare suggestively. Then his expression changed. The smirk turned to surprise and shock; the sexual aggression to disbelief, confusion. He lowered his head, and looked away. At 17 she began to train in jujitsu and earned a blackbelt. Janet Heron, professionally known as Dr. Janet Heron Asay Miller, was a product of Chico. She attended Chico State College's Aymer J. Hamilton Elementary School, Chico Junior High, Chico Senior High and Chico State. In Chico she acquired many skills: she learned to rockclimb on local mountain rock formations; to ski; to pilot a plane; and, with the late, esteemed Prof. Bud Estes, to practice martial arts. In the '70s, she transferred to UC Santa Cruz to study Animal Behavior. While there, the law changed and the state could no longer bar job applicants on the basis of race or gender. Janet, five foot two inches tall and 105 pounds, applied for a summer job to fight fires with the California Dept. of Forestry (CDF,) a male dominated organization. She survived extreme physical tests, but with grit and determination, she qualified, and got a job. She was pressured to quit by overwork, often ordered to do five times the work of men twice her size, and put in dangerous situations. She never complained of sexual harrassment at CDF. By then she had practiced jujitsu a few years and had gained in confidence and skill. She perservered and paved the way for other women. She received a B.S. in Biology at UC Santa Cruz and studied Animal Behavior at UC Davis. She changed fields and received a Masters and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas. In the summer of 1992, anyone seeing the two young ladies seated on the lawn of the Madison County, NY, Mental Health Clinic might conclude they were high school classmates enjoying an animated conversation. They appeared equal in age. In fact, one was more than twice the age of the other. The Clinic's clientele came from a population described as the most backward, ignorant and abusive in the country. The younger girl, 16, and from that population, was a patient of the clinic and had been rejected by every mental health clinic in the state, except Madison. Madison was her last hope. She had petitioned the courts to be freed of an abusive family but was repeatedly denied. Intimidated by family and judges she could not speak to describe the abuse. She remained silent and trapped. The young psychologist with whom the girl talked, a recent Ph.D recipient, had been assigned to the girl's case by the Clinic Director, who reasoned that she might not help, but, at least, could do no harm. The young doctor listened, intuitively chose Role Play Therapy, a strategy to elicit stories, feelings, needs, and requests of patients. Switching roles, the doctor modelled responses for the patient. As they played the "game," the Director watched from his office and commented that he "couldn't tell which young lady was the patient, and which the doctor." As the young patient learned and practiced the behaviors modelled by the doctor, she became confident and articluate. At her next hearing, she gained the freedom she sought. The new Ph.D was Dr. Janet Heron Asay. In her career she would later often use "play therapy" to empower young clients to tell their stories. This first treatment experience presaged Janet's life journey, for she was inherently intuitive, innovative, imaginative and wise. She sought ever greater knowledge and insight. She was endowed with immense drive, energy, and an insatiable desire to learn. After Madison, Janet worked as a child psychologist for the State of Delaware and then started a private practice for families and children. She taught courses at Wesley College and at Wilmington University for the Community Counseling Program. After many years in private practice she moved forward in her career to secondary teaching, earned a Master of Arts from Wesley College, taught science at Dover High School and Lake Forest High School. She created her own curricula and laboratories, and then designed and initiated a course in Environmental Science, a field in which she was intensely interested. She provided the numerous curricula, and the new Environmental Science course to the districts as legacies to new teachers. Her lasting legacy is as an exemplary role model as a learner, healer and teacher. Janet loved living in her nearly carbon-neutral home in Felton, DE, surrounded, supported, and inspired by nature. She equally loved to work with families, children and students, and helped them find and take their next step in growth and learning. She is predeceased by her grandparents, Hattie Chesmore Heron, Chico residents, Gladys Pitt and Alfred (Al) Jackson; several aunts and uncles, including former Chico resident Charlie (Pat) Heron. She is survived by two sons, Camden and Cooper Asay; her loving, and deeply loved husband, Michael Miller; her parents, Chico residents Dr. Billy R. and Barbara Jackson Heron; brother Bruce Heron and wife Stella; brother Randy Heron and wife Sharon; step-daughter Stephanie Pacheco, and husband Will, step-grandchildren, William and Evelyn; goddaughters Zoe and Asha Sowers Miller; Aunt Glennis Nelson; Uncle Walt and wife Arlene; many nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews; ex-husband Chris Asay; numerous cousins and countless friends and loved ones from the many chapters of her life. She is also survived by her loving, faithful, "rescued" dog, Toby. Endowed with a contagious enthusiasm, energy and an effective work ethic, Janet dedicated her life to help children, families and the environment. In every endeavor she pursued, she strove to improve and support humankind and nature. Her many friends, loved ones, the fragile earth and its future are enhanced and made more secure by the precious gifts she bestowed. Janet remains an inspiration to all who knew and loved her. The family requests that desired donations go to non-profit organizations that fulfill Janet's goals and values. 1. 350.org (http:I/350.org) 2. Thich Nhat Hahn Foundation 3. AAUW Scholarship Fund in honor of her mother Barbara Heron and in memory of Janet and her grandmother Gladys Jackson. Contact Mary Jensen at mjensen@csuchico.edu
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record from Apr. 1 to Apr. 4, 2018
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