Beloved Wife, Mother & Grandma
September 3, 1947 to April 21, 2021. Preceded in death by brother Jerry. Survived by husband of 38 years, Al; sons Matt (Annie) and Chris (Britta); grandchildren Oscar, Vivian, Nicky & Dela; brother John (June) Messer and sister-in-law Laura Meyer. Retired after nearly 30 years with the Northeast YMCA. Visitation Thursday, April 29th from 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm at MUELLER MEMORIAL, 4738 Bald Eagle Avenue, White Bear Lake. Memorials preferred to American Heart Association, Regions Hospital or YMCA.
Jan (still known as Janice to her family) was born September 3, 1947 in Melrose, MN. Her parents (Clarence and Evelyn Meyer) lived on a rural farm on the Sauk River. Her father Clarence died when she was first crawling at 9 months old. At the time her mother was pregnant with her brother Gerald (Jerry). Being a single mother Evelyn had to sell the farm and become a working single mother to support the two young children. Her aunts and uncles and grandparents were her mothers support group and helped raise Jan and Jerry which resulted in close bonds with her aunts and uncles and cousins. These years also made Jan and Jerry closer than most siblings.
When Jan was about 10 years old, her mother married Larry Messer and they moved to Larryâs dairy farm near West Union, MN. Jan and Jerry had pet farm animals, especially a pig (Porky) who followed them all around the farm like a pet dog and refused to hang out with the other pigs. It took Jan years to finally eat pork. They also had a pet lamb (sorry I do not remember the name) â Jan never would eat lamb as it remined her of her pet lamb.
Jan attended the West Union country school which gave strong ties to the West Union city and people. Her brother John Messer was born during those years on the farm. She was a 1965 graduate of Sauk Centre High School. Unknown to us at the time of John Kennedyâs death we were not that far apart â I was at St Johnâs Prep School. After high school Jan worked at Fingerhut and then 3M in Alexandria. It was at a 3M spring fling at Arrowood that I first met Jan â about 5 years before we were married. Our first date was to a 3M outing to a Twins game. After returning to Alexandria on the 3M bus we went to Garfield, MN pool hall where Jan proceeded to beat me soundly in about 3 games of pool. Her brother John and wife June work in Sauk Centre, but still live on the family farm near West Union.
I was transferred back to the twin cities about two years after meeting Jan. For the 3 years of distance dating, we often met in Melrose, MN at her brother Jerryâs house before going to Alexandria for the weekend. I was accepted as a close friend of Jerry and his wife Laura and her two daughters. Jerry was best man at our wedding and we were godparents of their daughter Mary Ann. While working as a truck driver, Jerry often could not unload in the twin cities until the next day or Monday and spent many nights at our house. The passing of Jerry was very hard on Jan, but Laura moved to Somerset and remains a family tie.
Everyone who met Jan became a friend. She had a âMEA weekendâ group of ladies that were parents of our kidâs friends. Started as family outings over MEA and became a ladies MEA trip after our children graduated (the husbands did a local golf outing when wives were out of town). She was also the only cousin-in-law invited to a cousins outing on my side of the family.
Jan had a gift of being able to remember names. In the nearly 30 years at the front desk at the YMCA she knew a good portion of WBL â and in many cases the names of their spouses and children and pets andâ¦. She considered all members and colleagues as friends even after her retirement about 2 years ago. It was rare that we went anywhere local and she didnât know someone.
We were fortunate to have two wonderful sons and their wives, but above all, Jan loved being a grandmother to Oscar, Vivian, Nicholas (Nicky) and Adela Rose (Dela). We have at least 10 times more toys and books for grandchildren than we had for our own boys. We took every opportunity to spoil those grandkids. The worst thing about Covid was the reduction in time with grandkids, family and friends. FaceTime or videos of the grandkids and virtual hugs and kisses do not allow as much spoiling as actual holding! We were both vaccinated and looking forward to a more normal summer.
Jan loved being outside in the sunshine just resting or walking, and golfing and bicycle riding and time on the lake and backyard camp fires with friends and any excuse to be outside with friends. She enjoyed the humming birds at her feeders and helping neighbor Pat release monarch butterflies. She had a love of shopping (especially if she could spoil a grandchild with clothing with bling). Inside our house she collected owls (after an âowl prowlâ on a MEA weekend) and polar bears â the White Bear Lake theme. We will all miss her many loaves of banana bread and caramel candies at Christmas and her favorite - Thanksgiving feasts.
We would like to thank all the friends who sent videos and cards and FaceTime chats which made Janâs last month possible. God, you made a special person and the world is a better place because of her.