Gerti J. Janss

Gerti J. Janss

PHOENIX, Ariz. | Gerti Jimeno Janss had a smile that started in her eyes, dipped down into her heart and landed on her lips. Walking into her house you would be met with that smile, asked to sit down and hear, "You must be hungry." It was not a question, but a command. She wanted to nurture share the love that came from her heart.

Doctor Gerti also had a stubborn streak that would present itself as the lower jutting lip. That jutting lip meant she was determined, set to work and persevere until her goal was met. Anybody who played a card or board game will remember this. Those of us who watched her study for a board exam, make a ceramic or defy her headstrong husband saw it as well.

Anybody who lived in western South Dakota knew, met or was impacted by the life of Gerti Janss, Doctor Gerti. She opened the first Emergency Room in Rapid City, South Dakota and established the current one at Rapid City Regional Hospital. She founded the West River Mental Health Association. For many years she was the only allergist and toxicologist physician in the region. After the devastating 1972 Flood she coordinated the immunization for tetnus shots in the region.

Doctor Gerti lived more than one life:

She was born Gerti Jimeno Krzmrzyk in May 1933 in Barcelona, Spain. Her mother was a commercial artist and father an orthapedic surgeon. Her first six years were spent in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Gerta, her mother, was killed during the war and she remembered and spoke of it often as a political act of retaliation. Her father, whom she adored, escaped the Fascist regime of Franco and they became refugees in Austria through World War 2.

After 1945 Gerti moved back to Barcelona with her father and stepmother and has four half siblings who still live in Spain. She always knew she would become a doctor. She attended University of Barcelona to study medicine. Her father told her that internal medicine was probably too difficult for her, so she presented her lower lip and became an internal medicine specialist.

In 1956 she started a guest residency at the University of Iowa Hospital where she met Bill Janss, a fellow internal medicine resident. A friendship developed into a romance and they were married in 1958. He was her life partner, love of her life and they were devoted to each other. Although they were opposites in many ways; she was an elegant cosmopolitan European, he was the small town youngest son of a poor country railroad worker. She had the grace of Audrey Hepburn and he was a farm boy. What they had in common was a love for learning, opera, books and art.

After they married they had their first child Anna, followed by a second daughter Gerta. They settled in Rapid City, South Dakota following Bill Janss's military service in Omaha. Four children followed: Nuria, John, Helen and Bill.

Gerti dedicated her life for 10 years to raising her six children, volunteer work, a garden and maintaining close contact with her Spanish family. She made certain that all of her children knew and were proud of their heritage. She filled the home with art, music, books and philosophy. She stressed education as the one thing and that could never be taken from you. She often said, "The time you spend learning is never wasted."

She returned to work gradually, practicing her surgical sutures at the dining room table with surgical tools. She regained her medical license and started the Emergency Room at Johnson Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota. Later she helped design and build the new Emergency Room at Rapid City Regional Hospital. Her children would always be welcome to visit her at the hospital during a 24-hour shift. They would get advice and tips on what to cook for dinner or who had to be carpooled to what activity.

Doctor Gerti took over the practice of the retiring allergist in the West River area of South Dakota and had a joint practice with her husband in Rapid City. They were known as Doctor Bill and Doctor Gerti. She worked as a board-certified Internal Medicine Specialist, Toxicologist and Allergist for the next 30 years in private practice. She retired two years after losing her husband and relocated to Phoenix, Arizona where her two sons, daughters-in-law and four grandchildren live.

Her medical office staff were one of her greatest joys. She often said she was blessed with be best nurses and technicians that could be found. They were her work family whom she loved. Her staff loved her as well, saying that she was a physician with no nonsense advice and great diagnosis skills. She would say, "Sometimes you can tell a diagnosis by the smell."

Gerti also found solace at her cabin in Angostura. Every summer her six children, their spouses and 20 grandchildren would gather for a family reunion. She would work all year for the time spent with her family and friends at the cabin for swimming, card games, food and laughter. What her family didn't know but she surely did was that the time spent together at the cabin were a chance for her children and grandchildren to strengthen the web of family connection that cannot be broken.

Gerti Janss died peacefully of natural causes in her sleep November 5, 2020. She will be missed. We will miss her passion for living, her smile, her generous spirit and tenacious positive attitude. Anyone who knew her appreciated that she loved travel, people, family, medicine and her many friends. She had a zest for life and a joi de vivre.

Please join her children Dr. Anna Janss of Atlanta, Georia, Dr. Gerta Janss of Evanston, Illinois, Nuria Janss Stockman of New York, John Janss of Tempe, Arizona, Helen Janss Gutierres of Rapid City, South Dakota and Bill Pete Janss of Phoenix, Arizona, their spouses and her 20 grandchildren in celebrating her life, a life well lived.

In lieu of flowers please contribute to Hope Center Hopecenterrapidcity.org or the cornerstonemission.org


To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Rapid City Journal on Nov. 14, 2020.
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31 Entries
Dr. Janss was Rapid City's treasure, blessing us not only with her presence, but a legacy of beautiful children as well. A life perfectly lived that all should aspire to. God bless Gerti and her family.
Bill Evans
November 21, 2020
There will always be a soft spot in our hearts for Gerti. We knew her from the lake as well as the ER stitching up our kids!
Joe and Bonnie Hilt
November 21, 2020
The Janss family were a binding force in the little court we called home. So many memories, rest in peace.
Zane Huether
November 20, 2020
Gerti, you will be missed. Though I haven't had you as an allergist since 2006, I have thought of you often over the years always remember you telling me "No more animals. You cannot have any more animals because of your allergies." I, of course, didn't listen to that part of your advice but it makes me smile every time I think about it.
Karyl Meister
November 19, 2020
Dear Janss family, I am sad to learn of the passing of Gerti Janss, your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister. She was a wonderful Medical Doctor, a force to deal with if necessary. She helped develop the first EMT Paramedic training program which I was chosen to be one of six students. I will always be grateful for this helped to push me into the Physician Assistant profession. Goodbye dear Lady, thank you for all you did for South Dakota!
Robert Croyle
November 18, 2020
Mi admiración y respeto por ella y mis condolencias a John y sus hermanos.
Ramón Carballo
November 17, 2020
Joseph Moos
November 17, 2020
I am so dismayed to hear of Dr. Jann´s passing. My son had appendicitis in 1976. He was only 6 years old. Dr. Jann´s was the person that assured me that he would be fine. I´ll never forget that time in our lives when we both needed the strength and comforting presence of Dr. Gerti Janss. She was an extraordinary woman that wore so many different hats. We are so fortunate to have crossed paths with Dr. Janss, only so briefly. She touched so many lives in positive ways.
Kathy Beach
November 17, 2020
To all of Gerti's children, their spouses, and grandchildren - your mom/grandmother made life fun! If six children weren't enough, she lovingly welcomed so many more, like me, into her home. She found ways to organize the chaos with humor. For example, her ginormous Christmas tree never got knocked over by all the kids who invaded her house, as it swung from a hook in the ceiling. While I know she will be greatly missed, she will always be admired and loved by so many.
Tami Polenz
November 17, 2020
To All in the Janss Family... I was so thankful to know your mom. I had an opportunity to learn from her as an Allergist, but also observe her suturing in the ER. She was a true professional. She added something special to the Doctors' Lounge, though, when she walked through a group of mostly men (a few decades ago, mind you) and carried her handbag on her forearm. It always seemed like a brief Audrey Hepburn moment to me. She exuded a love of life and enthusiasm to those around her. My sincere condolences to each and every one of you. God's love to all of you...
Deb Fromm
November 16, 2020
Dr. Janss was a caring person as well as a more than competent doctor. I was fortunate to have her as my physician for a good number of years. Condolences to her family.
Serena Parnell
November 15, 2020
Please accept my most sincere sympathy on the death of one of the most beloved individuals that I had the privilege of knowing and calling a dear friend. Knowing all of her children and the fun experiences at Angostura is a treasure.
Jan Mattson
November 15, 2020
Going to an appointment with Dr. Janss was like going home to your mom to get needed advice in a loving way. I visited her for allergies several years ago and not only received a good diagnosis but also was told, "Keep your down comforter and warm sweaters because you will appreciate them when you get older!" She was right on! Thanks. Dr. Janss for giving so many such wonderful medical advice and doing it so lovingly. God bless your soul.
Mary Houska
November 15, 2020
Rest in piece sweet Yaya.
Tom, Gia and the "Littles" Danson
November 15, 2020
An amazing doctor and human being
Thea Hercules Geotas
November 15, 2020
Hello Nuria. We once shared a ride back to Rapid City from U of Iowa. I met your sweet mama again in 2008 when I was in Rapid City as Iowa City was under water and I was living and writing research papers remotely for my job at UIHC in Rapid for my own mother's last days. I was at a gym and there was Dr. Gerti working out. I chatted with her and asked how you were doing. She was such a comfort to me when she found out why I was there. I am so sorry for your loss. What an amazing and inspiring woman. Bless you all.
Linda
November 15, 2020
We were neighbors of the Janss family for almost 30 years (60s - 80s) I spent many hours with them in their lively and always interesting home. It would be impossible not to admire and respect Gerti's intelligence, energy, enthusiasm and generosity. I am deeply grateful for having known her. The sparkle in her eyes and her radiant smile are unforgettable. My condolences to her family and all those she left behind. And to the person who wrote the lovely obituary, thank you.
Kitty Peterson
November 15, 2020
We are so sorry for your loss of Gerti. She and Bill were our neighbors at the lake. For many years we watched her take off swimming in the lake...finally with a balloon or something in toe so boats would know she was out there. Then too seeing her large family come every summer to enjoy lake time together was great to see. You have our deep sympathy in your loss.
Rich and Gayla Meyer
November 15, 2020
Dear Janss family, I first met Gerti in the mid 70s when I worked in the ED with her. She was committed to her patients, always providing conscientious care and smiling that warm smile. One time she invited the ED nurses to her home for dinner. She served beef tongue and was very enthusiastic about giving us this great treat. Me, not so much. Later, she started her allergy practice, buying my dad's office near the westside Safeway. I have a dear friend who worked for Gerti there and sang her praises often. I think the last time I saw your mom was at your dad's funeral--she still had that warm smile. Gerti was a woman of true grit and a force for good in our region. She had an inestimable impact as a role model for women who aim to be loving mothers as well as to contribute to the professions they love. I know you are proud of your mom--our community certainly is. With respect, Carman Yackley Timmerman
Carman Timmerman
November 15, 2020
Dr. Gerti was my allergist for almost two decades in Rapid City. She made any necessary changes in my medication and injections so I could live a better life. I think I had seen her lower lip at least one time when she 'order' me to get rid of my two small dogs. Not normally do I ever challenge a doctor's advice but I told her I wasn't going to rid them from our house and said they bring cheerfulness, love and attention and that it was proven having pets will make us grow older and happy. I swear she stamped her a foot and said, "you will be on shots the rest of your life'. I told her I didn't mid. I loved her voice as she spoke. It was usually calming and very cheerful. I will certainly miss her. RIP Gerti.
John Hebrard
November 15, 2020
Blessings and condolences to the entire Janss family! I worked for Dr. Gerti in the late 90s for 13 years, Mary Jane, Glenna, and myself were the most fortunate nurses in Rapid City! Dr. Gerti and Dr. Bill gave so much of themselves for their staff! I have always said Dr. Gerti was the BEST employer I've ever had! She always appreciated her staff and she worked us all under the table! Dr. Gerti always wanted to see us succeed and enjoyed promoting continuing education and would always take us on annual conventions all over the country! Like Kay Foland, I too have my Christmas ornament collection and I display them proudly! Dr. Gerti never forgot a birthday and celebrated many accomplishments with all of her staff!! Thank you for the many years of sharing your mother with so many people, she was an amazing person and she will be missed!
Tara Young Weidmann
November 14, 2020
Many years ago Dr. Gerti and I were in the same exercise class. She never forgot me, always greeted me with a friendly smile when we met at Regional Hospital when I worked there. She was bright, warm, and down-to-earth. Thank you for telling us of her life . I am not alone in saying that we will always miss her. May her memory be a blessing and may she rest in peace.
Ann Stanton
November 14, 2020
She was an amazing lady what at beautifully written tribute for a beautiful life
Lisa Loerzel
November 14, 2020
Dr Gerti was our family doctor and was always so pleasant and happy to see us.
Jean & Dick Thomas
November 14, 2020
We loved Gerti as our daughter´s allergist, and my sister drove her son from Helena, MT to Gerti for the same! Also a thanks to Bill Jr. For teaching me to play chess at Angostora in the Early 1980´s , or late 70´s. She lived such a noble and admirable life!
Johnny Sundby
November 14, 2020
I have very fond memories of both Dr. Janss. I enjoyed visiting with them always. They both will be missed. They were very caring people.
Robin Caswell
November 14, 2020
I´m very sorry to hear of Dr Janss passing. She was a great doctor. I was her parietals for quite a number of years. God Bless
Sheila Hurst
November 14, 2020
Dear family, I was blessed to work with your mother in the ED in Rapid City in the mid to late 1970s. What a woman! (I also cleaned your house to help her out before I became a nurse!). I have cherished over the years, each Christmas when I bring out the ornaments and have 6 that she made and gave to staff each year. She was famous for making and gifting the ornaments from the kiln (I believe in the house). I have never broken one and now this years will offer a tribute to her memory when I decorate my tree. My sympathy to all, in honor of a tremendous woman and physician.
Kay Foland
November 14, 2020
Dear Janss Family, I had the honor and Privilege of working for Dr Gerti before she retired and I learned so much from her! I loved sitting in the break room at lunch and hearing her stories of growing up, of meeting Dr Bill and their life together and her stories of all of you! She was a magnificent woman and so inspiring! She will be missed so much. Thoughts and prayers to you all.
Stacey Parrent
November 14, 2020
Beautifully written obituary. I enjoyed reading about Dr. Gerti Janss' life, my allergist from many years ago. The wonderful time with family highlighted will no-doubt be treasured by each person forever. My father just passed as well and we all are embracing and recounting special memories. It's a great honor to have such a large, loving family. My condolensces to you all.
Deanna Geary
November 14, 2020
Prayers in the loss of Gerti. My thoughts are with you. I feel like I knew her personally, Brady and Tami talked about her like she was family to them. Bill, I´ll share Brady with you if we can get him to come to Az.
Carol Fuss
November 14, 2020