The reunion! It’s next weekend, folks! Are you getting excited?!!
As you know, the big event is at Duane and Jan’s house (I’m emailing information) and since many of us haven’t seen each other in a while, it’s very possible you haven’t met Jan. So this week, let’s get to know the very lovely Jan, who has blessed our family for the past 11 years and who also is celebrating an upcoming birthday!
Jan was born in Saginaw, MI, on June 22, 1944, to Clarence and Arleatha Henny. (This information alone is all we really need to know since for the past decade many of Duane’s children have been mystified by the possibilities of Jan’s age—she’s an ageless wonder!)
“I arrived on my parents 10th wedding anniversary,” says Jan. “I was brought home to the family farm and welcomed by my Grandpa Dankers and my only sibling, Ruth Ann, who is five years older than me.”
The family all lived together on 120 acres located between Bridgeport and Frankenmuth. Her great grandfather, a German immigrant, settled with other German families in this area east of Saginaw and set up farming, built log cabins and established the Lutheran church Jan’s family still attends.
“Grandpa Claus cleared the land and eventually built a Michigan farmhouse there where my nephew still lives,” says Jan. “They built up a herd of registered Holsteins and began Dankers Dairy. I don’t remember the cattle much since they were sold when I was very young but I remember the dairy well. My mother and a great aunt ran the daily operation until it was no longer profitable. It was a great place to go to get a pint of wonderful whole milk.”
An elusive quest thus far for Jan has been to find a Dankers Dairy milk bottle. Hey folks, keep your eyes peeled for one!
Jan’s father worked for GM Buick in Flint for more than 40 years and her mom, as Jan describes, “was the best volunteer at church and our schools that there ever was.”
“They loved having a garden and nurtured a love of gardening in both my sister and me,” says Jan. “We also had a cottage on Long Lake near Hale, MI, where we spent nearly every weekend in the summer. My sister and I still own it and enjoy time there. My dad always said it was good to work half a day on cottage maintenance and play the rest of the time. I still think that’s a good idea. Lots of good fish fries came out of the play part of the day.”
After graduating from Saginaw High School, Jan began studying elementary education at Michigan State University. Yes, those who know her, have no doubt of Jan’s Spartan loyalties—green is truly her color of choice!
“My program was a year-round program in conjunction with Delta College that involved time spent at Delta and MSU campus, plus regular student teaching, plus a year of internship in a school district in the area,” says Jan. “It was pretty intense but I graduated with all that in three years plus a semester. I really knew I was in a career that I loved when it was over.”
Two weeks after she graduated from college, she married her husband Ron on New Years Day, 1966.
“We had met up north at the cottage but he then went to Delta when I was there,” says Jan. “He went on to Albion College and graduated from Ferris State in pharmacy. We lived in Big Rapids where I taught school in Morley-Stanwood School until he was through school and then we moved to Grand Rapids where he interned and worked at Blodgett Med for six years.”
In 1973, Ron took a position as a pharmacist at Owosso Memorial Hospital, and later as the director of pharmacy. Here in Owosso, the Wyatt and Amos families began to cross paths. Ron and Jan bought a house on Garrison Road, around the corner from Duane and Carol’s. The Wyatts joined Salem Church and sent their children to Salem School, where the Amos’s also attended.
“We had four children; Kristen, Dale, Aaron and Katie,” says Jan. “During that time, I taught and was director of pre-schools. I was fortunate to be able to stay home with the babies until they were old enough to go back to school with me. When they were all older, I taught kindergarten and 5-6 grades at St. Joseph Catholic School in Owosso and then 6th grade in Owosso Public School. They were both wonderful places to work.”
You know, sometimes in our lives God has seemingly hard-to-understand ways of making things happen. That’s how it’s been for Duane and Jan.
In May 1995, Jan’s husband Ron was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. He passed away in March 1996, just ten months later.
“By then, Kristen and Dale were both married and living in the Detroit area. Aaron was 17 and Kate was 14,” says Jan. “I was working at St. Joe’s and started working part time at Jo-Ann Fabrics to make ends meet. It was a scary time but we had also some wonderful and funny times charting our new path.”
In 1996, Duane’s wife Carol was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For three years, Duane and Carol battled her disease, but in August 1999, she passed away.
This brings us to June 9, 2000, when one evening Kate answered the phone and gave it to Jan, saying “Mr. Amos wants to talk to you.”
“I answered and he asked me if I would like to celebrate the end of the school year and go out to eat,” says Jan. “I thought Terri had put him up to this because she too was celebrating the end of a school year. I then answered with the most romantic phrase that I still haven’t been able to live down: ‘Sure. Why not.’”
“The rest is history,” says Jan. “The last 11 years have been so wonderful. We have laughed, cried, worried and been totally content. We know we will make it through anything together. As it should be.”
These days, besides putting up with Duane (sorry, Dad, I have to interject with some Amos Boys’ humor), Jan is also the wonderfully involved mother to her four children, who live in southern Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. She’s also a doting grandmother to Hannah, 15, Peter, 13, Jack, 2, and a new baby girl, due one month from our reunion.
So here you have it, as Jan says.
Janet Kay Henny Wyatt Amos,
Child of God.