You might not have known Janie Mowery. But somebody you know probably did. She touched so many.
Janie died during the early and still hours of Wednesday. A courageous battle waged against demon cancer was over. She was valiant for well over a year-and-a half. Just prior to the 2010 school year, she became suddenly ill. It was a brain tumor. She died at 57, much, much too young. The suffering is over.
Janie had so many friends including an editor of this newspaper who met her in Don "Luke"?Bennett's driver's ed class of all places over 40 years ago. Like her longtime sweetheart and husband of over 30 years, Bill, she was what being good is all about. Pure and simple good. She was of quick smile and kind word and deserves this public tribute because of who she was and because of the kind of life she led.
A 1972 Salem High graduate, she taught fifth grade for 35 years at Prospect and Southeast schools. Just think of the hundreds of students she impacted in a positive way. She taught students who were children of students she had, leaving an impression spanning generations. She helped in getting our popular School is Cool page started which highlights each district school building on a weekly basis.
Janie was also so active in other ways: as a Sunday school teacher and deacon as a member of the Salem First Christian Church; as a former member and past president of the Salem Junior Mothers Club; as president and board member of the Salem High School Alumni Association; and, as longtime track coach for the high school and junior high programs. Her son, Matt, followed mom into education and is now at United Local where he also serves as head boys basketball coach. Janie's father was the late Al Cleveland and her sister is Audrey Null. Al was a past executive director of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. Audrey is the current chamber leader. Yes, community service ran in the family.
Janie and Bill were of unwavering faith. That will help him remain steadfast through this tragedy. The school district has lost a good one as has our community. Janie Mowery was a lasting influence in all of her fifth-grade classrooms. Between the tears and chuckles that memories will bring, she also left all of us a lesson of life - of a spirit of living that death can never take away. Those of us who knew her are thankful. Pure and simple thankful.