Janice (Jan) L. McNelly was born on Jan. 13, 1941. She died of the COVID-19 virus on May 8, 2020, after an eight-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 79 years old. Jan was born in Ackley Iowa and as a very young girl her family moved to Cedar Falls Iowa. She graduated from High School in 1958. She was married to Chester McNelly on Aug. 7, 1965, while attending the University of Northern Iowa where she earned her teaching degree. In the spring of 1968 the young family moved to Manley Iowa where Jan was a homemaker and worked part time at the local grocery store. In the summer of 1970 the family moved North to Grand Marais Minnesota where Jan began her teaching career working as a high school English teacher and a special education teacher. While living in Grand Marais, Jan attended summer school earning her master's degree. In the summer of 1978 Jan and her family moved to Fairbanks Alaska where she continued teaching English at West Valley High School. She later became the vice principal of the North Pole Middle School and also worked as the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Director of Curriculum. Jan retired from her career in education in 1998 and after 20 years in Alaska, she and Chet moved back to Iowa settling in Webster City. Jan and Chet separated in 2003 and Jan returned to Cedar Falls. In 2012, Jan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Jan was an avid reader and could always be found with a stack of books she was reading. She and Chet raised two sons and Jan was a dedicated and doting grandmother. She was active in several service clubs and served as the Iowa President of the League of Women Voters during her retirement years.
Jan was well known for her warm smile and infectious laugh. Jan cherished her many good friends from her life in Iowa, Minnesota and Alaska and held those memories close. She touched the lives of thousands of students throughout the course of her three decades in education.
Jan is preceded in death by her parents Vernon and Greta Nelson and her ex-husband, Chet McNelly. She is survived by her two brothers Joe and Dick Nelson, her sons, Trenton and Daniel McNelly, her grandchildren Caitlin, Samantha and Darren McNelly and by two great-grandchildren Silas and Vivian McNelly.
A memorial service will be planned later this summer when gatherings will be safer and appropriate. Richardson Funeral Service in Cedar Falls, Iowa, is assisting the family.
Published in Daily News-Miner on May 12, 2020.