Jan Reinecke, a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend, passed away at age 95 on Dec. 12 due to an injury from a fall. She was able to spend her last days at home with her family. Jan will continue to inspire us to cherish our most treasured gift — family and friends.
Born in Pasadena, Calif., Janet Elaine Miller Reinecke was the daughter of Daniel Chambers Miller and Marguerite Reed Miller. She grew up in the beauty of Southern California, exploring the beaches and mountains with her parents and older sister Katherine. She delighted in telling us that her high school graduation was held in the Rose Bowl and instilled in her family a life-long love of the Rose Parade, which passed by her family’s Pasadena sporting goods store each New Year’s Day.
Jan graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology in 1948, inspiring her life-long support for education and equity, particularly for women. She soon joined the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and was honored to become a lifetime member in 2005. Throughout her life, Jan proudly supported organizations that mentor and advocate for young girls and women, including Girl Scouts, Planned Parenthood, PTA, AAUW, and many local women’s associations.
For several years after college, Jan thrived at her job with a Pasadena advertising agency. She met Bob Reinecke, also a UCLA student, at a legendary split-pea-soup party in 1948, and they married in 1951. As so many women did at that time, she then put her career aside to support her husband’s career with Westinghouse and focus on her family. They soon settled in the San Francisco Bay Area,. where their three children, Lynn, Daniel and Donna, were born.
In 1961, they moved to Moraga, Calif., a small suburban town over the hills from Oakland. There they raised their family in a close-knit and nurturing neighborhood on Hetfield Place, forming friendships that lasted a lifetime.
Jan and Bob placed an emphasis on family travel, and we explored the scenic and historic wonders of California from end to end. As her children grew older, Jan was a valued staff member in high school English classrooms, helping teachers grade and evaluate student work (sometimes, to their dismay, that of her children). A highlight of her tutoring work began in 1975 when refugees from the collapse of South Vietnam arrived in Moraga. The school was desperate; these young children knew no English and could Jan help? With no formal curriculum, she used ingenuity and common sense to teach the kids language and skills to help them thrive in school. Jan was delighted last year when, through the magic of the internet, she heard from those kids, now grown with successful families and careers, of their fond memories of learning from her.
Upon Bob’s retirement in 1989, they moved to Lake Wildwood, Calif., in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. They had 25 happy years there, forming many deep friendships, and participating in community life. Our entire family greatly enjoyed gathering each summer for beach time, swimming, and sailing. Through their retirement years, Bob and Jan continued to travel, and visited all parts of the globe. And they adored being grandparents to Kirsten Reinecke (daughter of Dan and Lu Ann Reinecke) and Weston Christensen (son of Donna Christensen and James Christensen).
In 2014, Jan and Bob moved to Freeland, Wash., on Whidbey Island, to be closer to their daughter Donna. They loved exploring the communities and natural beauty of their new home, and Jan continued her AAUW membership through the Whidbey Island Branch. Highlights of 2016 were the weddings of grandson Weston to Heather in Oregon, and of granddaughter Kirsten to Sean on Whidbey Island.
Jan greatly missed seeing her family in person this past year due to COVID-19, but she became quite comfortable with weekly Zoom gatherings, especially on that happy day this past fall when she learned her granddaughter is expecting a baby boy in March 2021. Our mom treasured the stories of our family history, and because of her, we will do our best to pass them on to our children and grandchildren.
Libraries were an important part of our mom’s life, and she was an avid reader. She had many other joys, including entertaining, cooking, beautiful surroundings, vacations, beaches, (especially Hawaiian beaches), The New Yorker magazine, cookies, chocolate, new and old friendships, and her Bob. Jan was known for her sharp mind, her excellent memory, and an avid curiosity and interest in people and places. To quote one of her best friends, “Simply put …Jan was a classy woman, loved by all. We will truly miss her.”
Her beloved family includes Bob, husband of nearly 70 years; daughters Lynn Reinecke and Donna Christensen, of Langley, Wash.; son and daughter-in-law Dan and Lu Ann Reinecke; granddaughter Kirsten Reinecke (Sean Farm); grandson Weston Christensen (Heather); sister Katherine’s children, Mary Burmester (Neil), David Crater (Nancy), Barbara “Anahita” King; and many great nieces and nephews.
We are grateful for the wonderful care provided to Jan by Swedish Hospital Cherry Hill and WhidbeyHealth Hospice.
To honor the life of Jan, please consider contributing to the Whidbey Island AAUW Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1332, Coupeville, WA 98239, or your favorite charity.