Janet Virginia Law, 87, of Colton
COLTON, New York (WWNY) - Janet Virginia Law, 87, passed away peacefully at her home in Colton NY on Thursday, May 5, 2022, surrounded by her loving family.
Daughter, Sister, Niece, Cousin, Aunt, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Friend: All these titles are synonymous with the most precious of God-given gifts to humankind, the capacity for love. Whether your title grants you the gift of love from others or you give it away to someone else, love graces the hearts of all who bear those roles.
Janet was an extraordinary woman who wore every one of those titles on the lapel of her life, dazzling us all with multifaceted beauty every new day she lived.
Janet’s life began simply, like a young apple tree in the springtime; fresh, new, and tender. She was born December 31, 1934, in Norwich, Chenango County, New York to Fred and Flossie (Law) Hinman who were farmers. She was the eldest of six children, Mildred Smith of Norwich, Fred Hinman of Norwich, Norma Matthews, (d.), Melody Langille (d.), and Ralph Hinman (d.) Janet was a member of 4-H as a girl, and she loved jumping on the tractor and helping her grandfather with the haying in the summertime. Family was very important to her even at a young age and a central part of her life growing up was helping her grandparents and parents in the fields, in the barn, in the kitchen cooking and baking, helping where it was needed, and watching the younger children. She graduated from Norwich High School in 1952. She studied Home Economics, which, she didn’t like. Her love for cooking was born at home and was nurtured throughout her young adulthood with her mother and grandmother. She soon blossomed into one of the best cooks you’ve ever encountered in your life, hands down.
Life grew a new set of branches when Janet married Willard Harold “Dutch” Law Sr. in 1952. Soon after, they moved to Colton, NY where they built a house and started a family. Janet became the mother of three sons and six daughters over the years; Nioka “Nimi” Law, 16 yrs. d. 1968, Terry (Linda Slater) Law -- Stockholm, Beth (Steven) Burdett – Parishville, Susan Liebfred – Parishville, Lisa (Dwayne) Bond – Stockholm, Willard (Valerie Sochia) Law Jr. – Brasher, Ada (Lloyd “Bub” Layo) Law – Massena, Leslie (Bill) Pfeiffer – Union, KY, Lauren Law – infant d. 1980.
Supporting and raising a family of such a size with very little means was demanding in good times, to say the least, and worse in not-so-good times. However, Janet was a shining example of resourcefulness, determination, and endurance; she had an iron will and a fiery disposition, to say the least. When she spoke, you moved; mostly out of reach, but you moved. She was an ace at managing her large family while instilling the values and qualities in her children over the years that she treasured. She preserved food from a family garden by canning and freezing, made her own ketchup, raised chickens for egg money and the intermittent fried chicken dinner; she organized berry picking parades with her children for an endless supply of pies and jams, she began her days at 3 a.m. frying doughnuts for sale at a local market in Potsdam. She was an accomplished seamstress and made clothes for her entire brood; pj’s, nighties, aprons, dresses, or new underpants, Janet made it all.
Janet was a gifted saleswoman and an outstanding manager. She began working for ‘Friendly Home Parties Corporation’ of Albany in 1962 and pioneered their movement into Northern New York covering all of St. Lawrence, Franklin, Essex, and Clinton counties. She served as Regional Manager for 48 of the 60 years the corporation has been in business. When she retired, she left behind her a trail of forged friendships miles wide and a deep valley of respect and admiration for all who knew and worked with and for her.
Janet was extremely driven as well as disciplined and returned for further education at Massena School of Business while still working for the ‘Friendly’ corporation. At the age of 55, Janet showed a fiercely competitive spirit with three of her daughters who were also enrolled at MSB the same year. All four women graduated in 1989, a hair’s breadth between them in grades. Janet immediately went to work as a Financial Aid Secretary for SUNY Canton and enjoyed a fulfilling 13 years of dedicated service until she retired in 2002. Her timeless values and pristine work ethic were known throughout the campus to students and faculty alike.
Throughout her life, Janet’s family grew, divided, and grew again in different directions; the apple tree was mature, rooted, and bearing much fruit. Although she and Dutch divorced, they continued to watch their large family multiply and spread out like fresh new blossoms every spring. Today, Janet has 28 grandchildren, 38 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren as well as several nieces, nephews, and cousins. Only a short number of years ago, the family tree boasted only 68 descendants, not the whopping 76 of today; however, Janet’s simplistic but frank and witty humor is recalled when an exclamation of surprise back then at 68 resulted in her simple answer, “Well, I’m doing the best I can.”
Janet loved her family, and she loved the outdoors. She was a brave woman as well. It takes bravery and gumption to pack up kit and kaboodle and drag everyone out to camp all over the North Country. In her own words, she said, “Getting ready to go camping is a major undertaking and packing everything I think I might need becomes a project resembling the amassing of aid for a foreign country. After all of this planning, I find… that I have forgotten at least one very important item, the most common being a can opener and Band-Aids, which for some reason seem to be the first things I need.” However, she did it anyway because she loved it. Her children will attest to the fact that times at camp with rowboats, fishing on the river, and garlic eggs over a campfire were some of their best childhood memories; ones they in turn tell their children, and then dreams are born about what a wonderful fisherman their great-grandmother was and maybe that’s why they like it so much too. Many of us love camping today just as Janet did. What a wonderfully brilliant, embroidered patch of memories and a passion for the outdoors Janet sewed into the quilt of our lives by just living hers.
With children gone and much of life still left to live, a new branch to Janet’s apple tree grew forth and she blazed a trail and started traveling. She enjoyed several cruises, she traveled to Nashville and Branson Missouri several times. Janet loved the journey as well as the destination; she reveled in the entire experience. A friend once remarked to her, “Why don’t you fly? It’s so much easier and faster.” With her signature move of a raised finger, a quick adjustment in the chair, and a firm resoluteness, she replied, “I… am going to see everything there is to see. I will get to see and drive through the Gateway Arch in St. Louis…twice, once on the way there and again on the way back! You can’t do that in an airplane, no sir!”
Although Janet had many hobbies; bowling, crossword puzzles, and playing board games, she was also an avid reader, a gifted writer, and a marvelous researcher. Her head was full of all kinds of wonderful information and she could recall it at the drop of a hat. She loved reading about Abraham Lincoln and biographies of her favorite movie stars and singers. Two things were always certain at her house: there was always an old movie playing or good old country music being sung or played. You could also be certain to get a full discourse of the singer or star while you were there as well; what pictures they played in, who they recorded with before they made it big, and what events took place during any of their personal lives at any given time. She was a treasure trove of knowledge.
Growing up the way she did, Janet had a natural love of the wild, natural world around her. She found joy in every turkey, deer, bear, or woodpecker she saw. She had a special love of birds and always had feeders full year-round outside the windows. It was nothing to walk into the foyer and see bags and bags of mealworms and sunflower seed and boxes and boxes of suet all standing at attention, ready for action. She would be talking to you a blue streak, stop mid-sentence, raise herself in the chair, peer out the window, point to a spot, and smile bright with excitement while whispering to you, “you see the little nuthatch? He’s right there, isn’t he just beautiful?” Then she’d give you a full discourse on nuthatches, color, size, migration, range, nesting habits, and mating rituals. It didn’t matter what bird it was either, she knew them all. She was marvelous. Her favorite birds were bluebirds and hummingbirds. Her favorite color was blue which almost certainly led to her special love for bluebirds. Whoever named them the “Bluebird of Happiness” must have been a friend of Janet Law as they most certainly were inspired by one of her smiles. The bluebird is the perfect favorite for her because that’s what you see when you see her smile, pure happiness.
Above all the things Janet loved to do, nothing trumped spending quality time with her family. It didn’t matter who was there or why. It was always, “Hey Mom!” or “Grandma I’m here!” shouted from the foyer, and the resounding, “Up here honey!” would be returned to you from the living room on the second floor. There must be something special about a person who constantly utters the phrase, “Well, bless your heart” and who calls everyone “sweetheart” and “honey”. Every grandchild will tell you, every time you go to Grandma Janet’s house, inevitably the phrase would come up if you did or said something that either impressed Grandma or tickled her just so, “Well, bless your heart” would come out. Perhaps an anxious young child timidly asking for a piece of candy gets the reply, “Of course sweetheart”. Always, you’d promise to come back and see her another time and say, “I love you Grandma”, or “Love ya Ma”. “I love you too honey” was always the reply.
The great thing was, no matter how old the child got, or what the child has done, you’re always “sweetheart” or “honey” and you’re always getting your “heart blessed”.
The apple tree Janet had nurtured for so long, fed her for the rest of her life with the family she loved so much. You could see it especially well with the family reunions. The family would work tirelessly all year long to gather Janet’s family from what seemed like the four corners of the globe and possibly a reflection of “amassing aid for a foreign country”. Janet would always hold the guest of honor position, front, and center, and reveled in each member of her family coming to sit a spell and chat with her, hug her, kiss her, tell her how much they’ve missed her, and make plans for the next visit. She always enjoyed those times immensely. You could see the child inside spring to life in her bright blue eyes when her fingers were sticky with cotton candy and tears of laughter rolled down her cheeks from the silly clown she knew would soon give her a grand, painted kiss on her cheek when the show was over. The stories would come that would make her lose her voice in laughter as she told them, cover her face in her hand, shake it off, and grin from ear to ear. She delighted in those days with her family all about her. But even after all the monkeys went home and the big top came down, Janet always expressed how beautiful a time she’d had visiting with everyone, what fun it all was, and how much she was looking forward to the next one. The last thing you’d hear when you dove in for that final wonderfully warm hug and softest of kisses was “Oh, I love ya honey.” Then the experience ended with both of her hands clasped to yours and she’d squeeze them tightly and hold you in her gaze, her blue eyes would come alive and twinkle at you silently asking, “come see me again, okay?” Then she’d wink at you with both eyes and flash that “Bluebird” smile and you’d be full of love and warmth the whole ride home.
There are always people in our lives you learn a lot of things from; not only by what they say but how they live their own lives. The places they go, the lives they’ve touched along their journeys, the memories they’ve made and shared, and the examples they’ve set, good and bad, as well as the walls and barriers they’ve broken through or jumped over. We are forever grateful to the Grand Creator for the gift of Janet Law to every one of us; for by being herself and having the courage to live her life as she did, she blessed us with a bounty of wisdom, laughter, and love. She has taught us resilience, determination, honesty, the beauty of simplicity and hard work, resourcefulness, fortitude, integrity as well as humility, forgiveness, and the blessing of family. We have all received what Janet always gave away freely and in abundance; “a blessed heart”. Our lives have been truly enriched and adorned with the undying love of the greatest “sweetheart” of them all, our Friend, our Aunt, our Sister, our Grandmother, and our Mother, Janet.
With Janet’s passing, we are reminded of the life she lived and the ones she loved throughout her life. We are saddened by her death, but we will rejoice when we see her again.
Janet said it best when she penned the following words, " In the garden, the majestic sunflowers turn their golden blossoms downward, looking like sleepy heads getting ready for a long nap. As always, I experience the feeling that I have enjoyed a unique time that will be slow in arriving again….Of course, there are many things that are unpleasant about winter; it’s too long, it’s too cold, the roads are treacherous…but just when I feel I can take no more, there are those beautiful, brave crocuses again.”
A small private service is being held by the immediate family. Donations may be made to Hospice.
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