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Janice Ruth Jenkins (Clark)

Janice Clark Jenkins
June 4, 1931 – December 14, 2022

On December 14, 2022, the world lost Janice Jenkins. Her decline had been a slow one, a beautiful, intelligent, funny woman whose true self had been lost to Alzheimer’s years ago and whose body finally succumbed after a bout of pneumonia.

Janice was born in 1931 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but was raised in the nearby, small town of Rockford. Her parents, Lynn Harold and Ruth Curry Clark encouraged her love of music starting her in piano lessons early, watching her excel and serve as the accompanist for her high school choir. She graduated as the Class Valedictorian from Rockford High School in 1949 and then attended the University of Michigan for 3 years where she met the love of her life, Paul, who she would marry in 1952. The couple moved to Charlotte, NC where Janice completed her studies at Queens College with a degree in Vocal Music in 1953. 1954 brought a move to Louisville, KY, and in 1956, with two young children in tow, Janice moved to DeLand, Florida when her husband took the position of Professor of Organ at Stetson University.

During the over 50 years that Janice called DeLand home, her biggest impact was on the students and staff of Stetson University. She initially did some intermittent adjunct teaching of Music Theory classes at Stetson, but in the early 1960s when the university’s music librarian abruptly departed, she was asked to fill in as interim music librarian. She found she enjoyed this work and as it had become her full-time job, she spent the next several summers returning to the University of Michigan to earn her Masters degree in Library Science. Upon her retirement, the Music Library at Stetson was named in her honor. She is fondly remembered by Music School students for the assistance she gave them in the library, especially with the dreaded listening tests required of all music majors at the time, known as the Stetson Lists. She also taught many voice students during her time at Stetson and her own beautiful soprano voice was showcased during recitals she gave almost every year. The highlight of her performance career was with the ensemble known as the Stetson consort, consisting of her husband Paul on harpsichord, Bill and Rose Martin on violins, and Clyde (Tom) Shaw on cello, giving concerts at Stetson and throughout the Central Florida area. In the late 1990’s, Janice almost lost her life in a serious car accident, requiring her to be on a ventilator for several weeks. Her resilience was evident as she made an incredible recovery, although she was heartbroken that her vocal ability was impacted and never fully returned, in her opinion, to the soaring soprano voice she once had. Nevertheless, she continued to sing, primarily in the choir at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand and even in the choir at All Souls Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City after Paul’s death in 2015. In addition to her remarkable voice, Janice was also a skilled organist and pianist and continued playing the piano throughout her life. Even in her last months at the Memory Care facility, with a mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s, she could sit down and play her favorite Debussy and Chopin pieces to the astonishment of those around her. Janice was an avid Bridge player and continued to play the game even after she and the other participants had forgotten how to keep score.

Janice was beloved as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her grandchildren recall summer days at the Jenkins’ home swimming and playing card games, visits to Stetson and stopping by the Music Library. She was a consummate hostess, whether it was family visiting, Stetson students and colleagues, or friends Janice and Paul had made during their travels around the world. She would time when dinners would need to be ready by the amount of martini left in Paul’s glass during the infamous Jenkins’ Happy Hours. She was the quiet, steadfast, behind the scenes force that kept the Jenkins family running. She made life-long friends, had an infectious laugh and was never afraid to give honest feedback. She was well traveled, spoke multiple languages, and lived her life with grace and tremendous generosity. She will be missed.

Janice was preceded in death by her husband Paul, parents Lynn and Ruth, and older brother Jim. She leaves behind two children, John Clark Jenkins and Catherine Jenkins Reaves; 5 grandchildren, Elizabeth Buno (Brett), Jessica Wilkinson (Jay), Zack Reaves (Parisa), Jason Jenkins, and Jennifer Norman (Trace) and 8 great-grandchildren; Lincoln and Lyra Buno, Wesley, Anthony, and TJ Wilkinson, Bryson and Kaylee Norman and Baby Reaves (due in May 2023).

A memorial service will be held at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand, Florida on Friday, July 28, 2023 at 11:00 AM.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Stetson University, or the Alzheimer’s Association. Please direct Stetson contributions to the Paul & Janice Jenkins Organ/Harpsichord Endowment Fund. To make an online gift, please click on the links above, or send a check to Stetson University: 421 N Woodland Blvd, Unit 8286, DeLand, FL, 32724.

“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” – Yip Harburg

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