Janis Cantwell

(February 1st, 1932 - September 22nd, 2017)

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     Janis Cantwell left this world after  85 years, the last 25 with Parkinson’s disease. She dealt with her disease with grace and humor and tried to keep it from affecting her enjoyment of life. She was an avid gardener, with a yard full of flowers from Spring to Fall. A perfect afternoon for her would be wandering through the nursery with her friends or family, picking out something pretty for the yard, or some bargain on a dying plant she could bring back to life.  She brought Bamboo to St. Charles Avenue that will probably remain there until the end of time. She was an advocate for social justice ahead of her time. She hated bullies of all types and admired the humble and heroic.  She loved  Robert Redford, Paul Newman, John Wayne and Steve McQueen and watched their movies over and over. Mom never had much money but helped others in as many ways as she could. I remember her working with 3 other women to “pattern” a young developmentally disabled girl by helping her crawl. She participated in the “Stephens ministry” at National Avenue where she tended to and helped a homebound (then Nursing home bound)  member. She and her charge became close friends, and mom visited her until she passed away several years later. In her job at the pet hospital, she was always bringing home an animal that was rejected by breeders because it wasn’t “show quality”.  Whatever the critter was, it was certainly “pet quality” for us kids. Her rooting for the underdog was probably why she was such an avid Cubs fan, at one point having a life size cardboard cutout of Ryne Sandberg in her  bedroom.  Carol and Russ would frequently take her to a Cardinals-Cubs game in St. Louis where she would be decked out in her Cubs shirt, Cubs hat, Cubs umbrella, and pin that played “take me out to the ballgame”. I’m not sure she had the wherewithal to understand that the Cubs finally won the world series in 2016 but Carol took her the Cubs hat and put it on her. Mom regretted never having gone to college, but achieved that dream through her children and grandchildren who did. For not having a higher education, she had great respect for and insight into other cultures and dreamed of traveling to other places.  She did get to go out West to see her sister Jo and family a couple of times and made frequent trips to Texas  until she was unable to travel. First in her little pickup, coming back with Texas plants and rocks, and then in a plane, with garage sale finds that sometimes had to be removed from her suitcase at the airport due to weight. (Cast iron pots quickly put her over the 50 lb limit.) In her plane travels to Texas, she used every bit of her flying time to meet people, visit, and make friends, some of whom she stayed in touch with. In one case, a Priest from Oregon whom she and I visited 2 years later at the grotto where he lived and worked. I guess visiting with her fellow travelers was one way she got to see the world. I am one of Janis Cantwell’s 6 children. She is survived by 5 of us. Our brother Steve passed away Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014. Steve wasn’t religious. Those of us who are believe that Steve’s passing on Easter Sunday is a sign for us that he is joyful in the presence of our Lord.  Mom loved all of us and would be the proverbial mother tiger if she thought one of us were being mis-treated or harmed. I think the dementia probably helped her deal with Steve’s passing. At times she seemed to regret not having sufficient understanding to mourn for him, but if she did, would probably have suffered more. Mom had grit and determination and a great sense of humor. She was a willing participant in practical jokes and sometimes initiated them. There were many stories with her siblings growing up that I wish we would have recorded when they were all together. They were an intelligent and fun loving family that gave her the foundation of courage and sense of humor to raise her 6 kids alone. Janis is survived by her Children Carol (Russ) Garrison, Scott Cantwell, Linda (Don) Harnden, David (Tonya) Cantwell, Mark (Robin) Cantwell, 10 grandchildren, and 8.5 great grandchildren. She had lifelong friends who will miss her as well.  The family would like to think the staff at Riverview Manor in Ozark for their tender care of our dear Mom. A memorial service will be held December 28, 2:00 PM, at National Avenue Christian Church  in Springfield, MO. Online condolences may be shered at   

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