On Friday, September 20, 2019, Janice “Jan” Kowalkowski, beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother, passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
Born and raised in Cold Spring, Minnesota, Jan made the move to California with her husband and daughters (Kristi and Karen) in early 1964. After settling in Watsonville, she built a beautiful home that her children warmly remember as being full of love and laughter. In 1970, she welcomed a son (Kevin), making their family complete. Above all, Jan was a mother and did everything for her children. From the extra hours she worked to make Christmas extra special to the sports and school activities she supported- Jan was always in the front row cheering on her babes. This continued once she became a grandmother to her “little darlings”. No one loved the way Grammy Jan did.
Her passion for others did not stop with her children. Jan was a respected pillar within the community and knew no stranger. Her generosity and compassionate heart had no boundaries. She would be the first to deliver a home cooked meal to friend in need or give her time to local organizations like the Santa Cruz County Fair Grounds. Helping others was simply an inherent fiber in her being.
As if her plate was not full enough- Jan was always on the go. Local theatre, bridge club, bay area sports… she did it all. And the holidays- she set the bar for what a decorated home should be. Consider yourself lucky if you got to attend one of her Christmas parties and see her stunning nutcracker collection.
Lastly, anyone who knew Jan was tickled by her quick wit. To this day some of the classics remain; “You may have many wives, but you’ll only have one mother”, “Well let’s cancel Christmas” and “Aren’t you a kick in the pants.” While simple in context- these humorous quotes embody the fun, frisky and spirited woman that will be missed by so many. To know her, was to love her.
Janice’s family would like to sincerely thank the staff of Montecito Manor and Hospice of Santa Cruz County for their loving care of our Mother and for the love and support they provided us on this journey!
Jan is survived by her children; Kristi (Gary) Manfré, Karen (Jim) Tipton and Kevin (Michele) Kowalkowski; grandchildren Katie (T.J.) Gunter, Melissa (Adrian) Contreras, J.T. (Katie) Tipton, Joseph (Meegan) Manfre, Jerud (Erica) Manfre and eleven cherished great grandchildren along with her three sisters Rita, Fran & Dorothy and two brothers Damian & Tim and many friends. Jan was proceeded in death by her beloved parents Joseph (Bucky) & Mary Hennen.
A Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church (Valley Church) at 10:00 AM. Reception to follow at the Heritage Hall (Santa Cruz Fair Grounds). Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Santa Cruz County or the Alzheimer’s Association.