Dear friends and family,
Thank you for taking part in this memorial to my mother, Janet Wheeler Walter. The thoughts and memories included below are in no particular order. I did, however, place my email about her passing first, because many of the emails refer to it. Relationships mentioned: "Cousin, friend, neighbor..." are to Janet unless otherwise specified. This list is NOT complete... there were many long phone calls that are remembered fondly. PLEASE feel free to add further messages to the CONTACT section of this site, or to email me at email@example.com or my Facebook page. I will be checking these often and will quickly add your new thoughts here.
Hello friends and family, I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season. I have some news to relate:
For four days before Christmas, Janet's loving cat, Squeaker, did not left my mother's bed. On Christmas Eve at 11 PM my mother’s amazing care giver, Nu Aung, put her to sleep facing the window and staring at the stars. Nu noticed that she wasn't interested in eating, and that she was in a lot less pain than she had been. In fact, all of her senses were fading, and she just mumbled.
On Christmas morning I got a call from Herty Hamilton Forson, my mother's other amazing care giver. She said, almost in tears: "Janet's gone." I panicked: "Where has she gone, and how?" My mother was bed-ridden and unable to walk. "Had someone stolen her?" Then I understood: She had passed to the other side sometime during the night. Herty said that her face was completely at peace, just as Nu had left her. Squeaker has not been seen since. A body was found in the street, but there is some doubt as to whether it is his. He may still return, or perhaps he couldn't face living without Janet. (He truly WAS that devoted to her.) UPDATE: It seemed as though he had joined his beloved friend, Janet... but then he was seen by several sane people on my mother's bed. (Hodge, Janet's other feline companion) NEVER goes into that room.) Possibilities: 1. Squeaker has been hiding and only comes out at certain times; or 2. he has joined Janet, and comes back to check up on Rolv and Hodge.
Drew and I had planned to move to NJ in about a month to help with her care. Drew had quit his job for the move. I had earlier quit mine. I even joined a gym.
In the hospital, a few weeks after her fall, my mother glowed when she saw Drew and seemed to have great recognition of him. She always seemed to know who Rolv was. For a while she confused me with her brother David. Since October 19 when she fell, I have been to NJ 5 times, and Drew has been down twice. Right before the 4th time, Herty and Nu said that she asked about me every day... she knew that I was her son and would point to my picture on her dresser.
While I was there, her visiting doctor, told me that she could still live for a long time, and that the set-up that we had planned was the absolute best possible one imaginable. She would have spent her last days with a loving family: Drew, Rolv and me; and two wonderfully loving health care givers; in her own home, with her memories and her two beautiful cats. After I left to prepare for our move, she stopped asking about me. It was as if she needed to say goodbye, and having done so, she was ready to move on. Any troubles that existed earlier in my life with her had filtered away and I only feel unconditional love for her. I think that the same had happened to her in her feelings toward me.
My UNSELFISH THOUGHTS: I am so pleased that she went over when she did: She probably would have been in bed or in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She was very confused and had little to say. She could hardly hear at all. Worst of all, she was in constant pain, that, perhaps would never lessen. My SELFISH THOUGHTS: Even with all of this, I would have enjoyed having more time to say goodbye, and share more time with her before her great journey.
My final vision for her: a huge black Mercedes pulls up, the door opens and her brother, David, invites her in. He tells her that she can drive... where ever she wants, as fast or as slow, and for as long as she likes. (She had told me that what she missed most was driving.) All of her friends from the other side are in the car: her parents, her dear friends: Lily, June, Sybil, and Ann, and perhaps her dear feline friend, Squeaker, on her lap:
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves - And Immortality.
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed us – The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
re toward Eternity –
Love to all of you, ~Dave
Dear Dave –
Lewis called with the sorrowful news that your mother died over Christmas. I knew that you were in the midst of moving to be with her after her fall-; those plans and thoughts must certainly been comforting for her- Always welcoming, joyful- strong and purposeful as I recall your Mom. Michael joins in sending you our deepest sympathy. Peace and comfort to you, with love,
Joyce Sielewicz, brother’s sister-in-law
My deepest condolences to you and your family!
Cristal Garcia, Case Manager, Griswold Home Care
Jane and Jo, the owners of Griswald sent a wonderful card and phone condolences.
Dave, I hardly know what to say. I am shocked, yet I was expecting that this would happen soon. Please DO call me if you have time. I promise not to talk your head off, like last time.
I would definitely come to a memorial service, and think many in my family would also attend...please note: I intend to be in FL April 7-20th. I hope it's a different time for the meeting, but will make a way to be there, regardless.
I have so many questions...would it be easier to talk? Or are you tied up with details? Mainly, what will happen to Rolv? Do you need help with details? The house? Will you move? (I assume not, yet.....?)
I would still like to see you soon. Will you be at the house in Brunswick on New Year's Day (Friday)?
I am sorry for your (our!!) loss, yet know that it is best. It ends a phase of our lives, and a new one begins. Waiting to hear from you...
Love to you, ~Pam Shryock, niece Many loving phone calls were exchanged.
NOTE: I asked Pam for some tracks from some of the musicians in her family: Paul and Jessica wrote "I'll Give You Rest" and "Promises". The 2 sing on the CD for those songs, and Rick plays violin with Paul's guitar, etc. A true example of Rick's playing is heard on the instrumental " St. Anne's Reel". The website is: saviorsoul.net And if you touch the word SPOTIFY, you can hear the album cuts for free. (if it's too compl!icated, don't worry about it.) NOTE: With regrets... I will keep working on it... not sure how to do it. In the mean-time, perhaps people can go to YouTube, as I did: Love to you, ~Dave
So sorry to hear of your loss. Somewhere I should have a recording of your mother singing Ava Maria with you on piano at Peggy's and my wedding. Not sure if that's what you're looking for, but let me know if you'd like a copy. It's from 1986.
-Mark Walter, nephew
Hi Dave –
Oh dear Dave! I am so sorry to hear this news!!
I am sending warm thoughts to you during this difficult time.
Laurie Langelo, friend of Dave and Drew
I am so sorry for your loss. I was deeply moved by your stirring tribute to your mom.
I wish for you and Drew love and peace and better days ahead in the New Year.
Neil Laskey, friend of Dave and Drew
Ah just read about your Mother's passing. Stopped me in my tracks. So glad you wrote today. Tears as I read this. your news pushed me... Gosh what a wave came over me. Ah, we do not go on forever, except her singing. I can hear it in my ear.....,, and hear her talk about Olga. Oh do i remember Gloucester so well. I hope she did not suffer... Life, singing. She was an extraordinary person, able to live in many worlds. Not many can do that!! One of the most influential people in my life! RIP. Janet Wheeler Walter.
Hi to Drew!
Mardi Ellen Hill, friend and voice student
Janet Wheeler, soprano, in the Adams House Lower Common Room, by Robert M. Simon, January 13, 1954. In selections ranging from Handel to Norman Shapiro, Janet Wheeler revealed a voice of power and great beauty. The soprano was at her best in modern selections, especially in the Air de Lia. Taken from Debussy's early cantata L'Enfant Prodigue, this aria is one of the most taxing in the repertoire. Miss Wheeler managed its wide range with case and made believable, even in a concert setting, the portrait of a bereaved mother's grief. Six lieder of Brahms showed what an energetic performance can do: she colored her voice effectively with the changing moods of the text. In the three songs of Faure Miss Wheeler was more than equal to big emotional climaxes.
Sent Lyudmila Ivanovich and Mardi Ellen Hill, friend/student
So sorry to hear this news. She was a lovely person, and I always enjoyed seeing her when she came to visit Olga.
Nick Lasoff, grandson (I believe) of Olga Averino, Janet's voice teacher.
Wow, so sorry for your great loss. Please know that my thoughts are with you. When we met at your Uncle David's service, who could have known for sure that we would both lose our mothers so quickly thereafter.
After reading your mother's obituary, I realize she and my mother were born just one day (and 4 years) apart. My mom Josie was born on May 13 (1928). She knew your Uncle David for over 60 years and as you know, he was always an important part of our lives growing up.
My husband and I now live with 5 cats and the first kitten I was ever given (at age 4) came from your mother. He was all black and we named him Magnificat. I remember going to your mother's house -- it would have been around 1959, I wonder if you were around then? If you were, I have no memory at all of you, just of the litter of adorable kittens and my insistence on getting the black one.
I think it unlikely that we would have been able to grow up with cats if it were not for the connection to your mother. I'm sure she was an affirmative influence in the lives of many other people who were lucky enough to share her love of cats.
I hope Squeaker (how old?) will come back. If I can help in any way, I'm right here in Highland Park, 10 minutes away.
Meanwhile, living to 91 is pretty darn great. She was spared some of the indignities of becoming a long-term invalid. Even if you were not living with her, she knew you wanted to be. And I'm sure David and all her friends were there to meet her -- perhaps in a Mercedes, perhaps in a carriage.
All my best wishes,
Anne Singer, friend
Thank you for your beautiful letter with the sad but moving news.
Will almost certainly be able to be at the memorial service.
Tom Damrosch, friend (organ student of Sam Walter)
I'm so sorry you lost your Mom! It's good to hear your thoughts about it. You did your best; hope the good memories hold you. Jane Bieber, friend and neighbor of Dave and Drew
Oh Dave, I am so sorry to hear this. I am pleased that it seems like she went peacefully. I hope squeeker comes back.
So, it sounds like a change in plans for you and drew. I would like to go to the memorial service.
Dr. Carolyn Rundquist, friend of Dave and Drew; voice student of Dave; many kind words were exchanged in person.
David and Drew,
So sorry to hear about your Mother. I think about the two of you often. My mother is the same age as your mother. My mother lives with me now in Somerville. She had a knee replacement last August. She's physically doing okay. Dementia is starting.
I so respect your decision to try to go and take care of her. Sorry this thought Is after the fact. I will continue to think of your situation. Keep in touch.
Dr. Mel Simms, friend of Dave and Drew
So sorry to hear your mother has passed away. Your note about her is sweet with loving sentiment.
You and your family are in my thoughts.
Take care and I'll see you soon.
Kate Arata, friend of Dave and Drew, voice student of Dave
I have been think about poor Squeaker. I hope he has turned up. That cat was always with your Mom especially the past few months. Dan and I would like to come to a memorial...please keep us updated. I remember how sweet Janet always was for Halloween. Melinda was a tiny tot but she would always make up a little bag of candy and goodies for her and bring it over. Melinda would be so excited and loved showing her how she could play the piano. Betsy
Betsy Kirshner, friend and neighbor
Thank you for sending this. Once again, our condolences. Please keep us
informed regarding the memorial services.
Dan Kirshner, friend and neighbor
Please accept my Sincerest condolences on the loss of you Mother. We are ALL only Blessed with one for a Life time and in reading your story I can feel there were highs and Lows as in any Lifetime but most recently it was the wonderful Loving and caring side which if we all stopped and looked back, may well have been there ALL the time!!
I do hope so much that you will remember and cherish and take with you those special Wonderful times especially as you mentioned, how proud your Mom was of you and pointing to your picture.
Please know my Thoughts and Prayers are coming your way and to those Family and Friends of you and Family!!
If there is anything I can do, please do let me know.
Big Hugs and Lots of Love and I am so glad Drew is there to comfort you through ALL this!!
I can totally empathize, as I have gone through that with my Dad 4 years ago. AS my 99 year old Grandma used to say, Neal Honey , "Betta Days is Coming" !! I have always Lived with that in mind and as my Life Style and format for Happiness!!
Always, Neal :))), Neal Braverman, friend of Dave and Drew; Many kind words exchanged in person.
What an amazing e-mail. We were deeply touched. In fact, as I was reading it to my wife, Stevie, I had to stop several times to regain my composure. We are so very sorry for your loss. You have our deepest sympathies and you will be in our thoughts. Janet will always be remembered fondly!
Yes, we would love to attend her Memorial Service, so count us it! Just let us know where and when.
Brad had called us the day after Christmas to let us know of her passing and I, in turn, had let Gretchen, Kirsten and Kurt know. Also, I have taken the liberty of forwarding your e-mail to them and to Brad & Jo.
Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you. God Bless!
Bob Pruyn, cousin
Your letter was so moving and I was so stricken by Janet's passing and couldn’t figure out why it hit me so hard, especially in view of your most marvelous description of how it went when she passed. We should all develop such a picture for when we come to cross that rainbow bridge, what would make us most happy. Thanks so much for sharing the details with me. That is so much comfort to know about them. Her passing hit me so hard that I could not reply to your letter as I wanted. So now I am doing so.
It finally came to me that she had been one of the two angels who came down from heaven in my devastating marital smashup who helped and treated me kindly when all the world turned against me and laughed in my face and blamed me. That was the style then.
The other one of the angels was Norrie Liddell, Cathy's mother, who passed several years ago from the post polio complications.
Well I will miss her and I hope it went just the way you described and that she is happy and without pains now.
Oh yes, I am as excited as you are about the on-line memorial service. What a wonderful plan! I am filled with memories and feelings about it. You are a hero to get all this together and have presented it so well. And you and Janet will be in my thoughts.
All good wishes and greetings for the season belatedly. And I send solace to you and other survivors, especially Rolv. Please keep me posted. Thanks for your friendship.
Much love and thoughts.
Love, Martha Blackman, longtime friend of both Janet and Drew; Dave's guitar teacher (at age 11)
As a charter member of Central NJ SAI alumnae I send condolences to you over the loss of your Mother and our friend, Janet. We exchanged our summer home in Bradley Beach for her place in the woods and shared many musical experiences and medical problems from loss of hearing to hip replacement. Thanks for letting us know via Alice, et als.
Lois Badgley, Rutland, Vermont, SAI Sorority Sister
I took Rolv to the Olive Garden today for dinner. I brought up several places but he insisted to go there. The restaurant was quite busy for Sunday but the lady at the front recognized him and took us right away. She asked about Janet and I told her that she has passed away. So she came to Rolv and gave her condolences. Rolv enjoyed the dinner with a glass of gin. He was happy to go out too.
Nu Aung, friend and health care provider. Many loving calls were exchanged.
GOD BLESS YOU GUYS ALWAYS. Herty Hamilton Forson, friend and health care provider; Many loving calls were exchanged.
We're more than willing to help in any way we can. Coming to NJ soon?
We'd really like to see you (and Drew).
Love, Brad and Jo Lewis, cousin/cousin-in-law; long, loving phone calls were exchanged!
Hi Dave -
Here is a PDF scan of your mom's birth certificate I got at City Hall -
She was born at Faulkner Hospital in 1924 - ironically, right across the street from Springhouse where dad died in 2012. Strange.
Hope all is well -
Lewis, nephew Wonderful long calls and many photos (see PHOTOGRAPHS) were send.
I was lucky enough to be welcomed by Janet into her home and her family for almost a quarter century. I enjoyed her generosity during our visits and on many Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. I am glad that she accepted me into her family and that I was able experience connections with her that I still treasure. I’d like to share a few of these memories.
My first meeting with Janet was her 70th birthday party that David Walter hosted in Boston. Gathered there was an interesting group of her friends and family. It was also the first time I met her brother David Wheeler, and I recall their interactions in which they showed how they loved each other. I recall her sitting up straight on the couch, smiling, her eyes bright blue, wearing a black turtleneck sweater and black woolen pants. She made quite an impression on me.
Regality and generosity were a few of her personality gifts, I think. Janet was one of those rare people whose individuality and uniqueness come forward so naturally that she seemed at time queenly. She made her own trends and had her own opinions. Others followed after her. She was a great hostess and her lovely home was always a warm and welcoming place for me when Dave and I came to visit.
I recall how important it was for her to find fresh food for us to eat. Anyone who has stayed with Janet will have witnessed the ceremonies of preparing, cooking and eating. For many years Janet was a member of a local farm cooperative where she picked up fresh fruits and vegetables. She also sought out other groceries in the area that provided local produce. Not only a witness to food preparation in NJ, I also helped out in the kitchen and so I learned a few things about cooking. We all had our tasks to do, and it all came together in fine, tasty shape. I was glad to partake of her soup expertise, and have taken advantage of her discovery of the manual soup mixer (new to me). Finding the best restaurants was a fun pastime too, although sometimes our vegetarianism made her work a bit harder on that score!
We often looked through her voluminous picture books during these visits. From Janet I heard some great stories of Dave when he was a little boy. She made sure to show me pictures of her son through the years and I could see her love and pride in him. I learned things about Dave I might not have otherwise. I also heard stories about her trips to Europe and her several cruises which she so enjoyed.
Witnessing her civilized manner of living and how she and Rolv navigated their 70s and 80s with such independence gave me a glimpse into how it can be done with one’s individuality intact and blooming. For most of the time I knew Janet, she and Rolv frequently drove into NYC for concerts. They knew where to park and which restaurants were well-placed and this always had a romantic, sophisticated air for me.
I can’t forget going to the Metropolitan Opera with Dave, Janet and Rolv one Saturday for a long Wagnerian performance. Janet was obviously a real pro and came fully prepared with liquids and luncheon sandwiches for our sustenance. I’d never been to the Met, although I was raised on the Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts. I think this was the turning point in my personal acceptance of an adult enjoyment of opera. Rolv following along with his battered score, and Janet’s food preparation made it more fun for me.
I also have had great attachment to her last two feline friends, Hodge and Squeaker. Janet was always happy with a cat on her lap, even Hodge whose love-bite was incorrigible. These friendly cats were often seen parading before her as she took herself off to bed at night, as if they were leading her through the house. I know she took perpetual comfort in their company.
Late last year, when Janet was in a rehabilitation center after her fall, was my last contact with her. Even though her light was shining less brightly, she showed the same habit of generosity she’d always had. As Dave and Rolv and I shuffled into her room, she looked into our faces searchingly and her own face opening in feeling, she said: “Oh my dear ones, I’d thought I lost you! I’m so glad you found me.” Her lunch was being served at that time and she played hostess, concerned that we’d not eaten, hoping too that we’d find our way home. To one who didn’t know her, they might not have realized, but I believe this was her instinct for hospitality and generosity, shining out right to the end.
Dear Janet, I was glad to be a part of your life and I know we’ll sit together at the Big Table in the sky for another, even better meal.
Drew Hubbard, Son-in-law
Janet Walter was a warm and compassionate person with beautiful blue eyes. She was a friend to all and eager to help each and everyone at the drop of a hat. She had a beautiful singing voice. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to play in the accompanying orchestra. It was always a pleasure to perform with her. It was a pleasure to call her my friend. She will be greatly missed!
Nancy Schuman, friend
We're sad to lose Janet. She was a kind, sweet person and a marvelous singer. Gd. bless. Kindest regards,
Ingrid Kvam, friend
I don't even know where to start. As sad as the news is about Janet, I'm glad that you kept us informed. Your long letter was much appreciated though it carried the sad news for us all.
I feel for you as Janet's son. I lost my mother almost 22 years ago, and I so miss her and my father (who died 18 years ago yesterday). No matter how long you have them, it's never long enough. However, there is comfort in good memories of them. It's an awful at shock at first, but time does help in learning to live without them.
I'm glad that Janet died peacefully and in her own bed. I've heard of pets that won't leave their owner, and her sweet little cat did just that. How wonderful! You couldn't have done more for her. You and your partner gave up your jobs to move here to take care of her. What a great son you were!
As for me, I had a wonderful friendship with Janet for 35 years! Thank you to our SAI. There is much music and much love for all our members, but Janet and I spent many a Sunday driving to meetings and Province Days together. Those drives were special as we had time to talk and talk. When Janet wasn't up to coming to meetings anymore, Alice and I did all we could to, at least, get her to our Founder's Day Luncheons. I'll always have those times thinking of Janet with me. Alice and I also treasured the lunches she had with us at the Olive Garden. The last few times, Rolf brought her and ate with us. I also remember one time at the Colonial Dinner you came, too.
I never really heard her sing except for our songs at meetings. I look forward to hearing the tapes you have of her. I'm sure that her voice was more than beautiful!! Janet was always interested in others and so warm to her friends.
Please do put me on the list for her Memorial Service, and I will be there if at all possible. Do you have any idea when it will be? I would imagine that Alice will be there if she can. I also think that others in SAI may come as well. There is an SAI Memorial Service that we will do at one of our meetings in her memory. It does seem unreal that Janet is gone. I loved her and will always remember the many, many good times Janet and I had together. I'll keep you in my heart as well. With roses and deepest sympathy.
Jeanne Nimmo, SAI sorority sister
Our sincere condolences to you and the family. My heart goes out to you, especially at this time of the year...losing a loved one over the holidays is especially difficult. May you have peace.
I have such fond memories of your mother when she would visit and oh, that lovely voice. What a gift for everyone who got to hear her sing! :-) I just realized that she was the same age as my mother. What a blessing for her to have had such a long, full life.
Sylvia Lehn, niece
How sad it makes me to receive this news about your mother. Reading your message prompted a flood of memories that warm my heart. Mrs. Walter was a HUGE part of my childhood and young adulthood and contributed so much to the inherent and deep-seated sense of happiness and well-being that those years left with me. She had an absolutely regal presence, not based on any (justifiable) pretension about her family and personal accomplishments, but reflecting her remarkable intrinsic grace and human stature that set her apart from others. She always wanted me to call her Janet, but I never obliged her. You just don't call a royal by her first name. Impossible for me.
I can still hear her calling out to me - "deary," and knowing even then as now how authentic that term of endearment was. Whether in your apartment on 112th street, your house in New Brunswick or during my wonderful visits to Gloucester every summer, she treated me with loving care and great generosity, as if I was your brother, not a friend. And in so doing, she helped make that our reality in those wonderful years. The older I get, the more I appreciate that special time. Literally everything good in my life has its origins in what I experienced.in that larger circle of family that defined those formative years we spent together. I cherish the memory of them and of the great people we were blessed to have as parents and teachers.
My wife, Thelma, who has heard so much about your mother and wants to pay her respects. I have told her so much about our friendship and how close our families were. Please convey my condolences to Rolf.
Love, Haig- Haig Nalbantian, friend
I was out of town when your email arrived, and have waited to write until I had some quiet time. But I've been thinking about you and your mother for the past several days. My deepest sympathies to you and Drew on your loss. Your telling of the story of your mother's last days and hours is so kind and gentle and speaks so well of the resolution of your relationship and your love for her. You were both very fortunate for the way it all has worked out (except for the fact that you are now without your jobs, unless you are able to rescind your resignations! ). I also feel that I have been fortunate to know her, to have heard her sing many years ago, to be her "sister" in SAI, to have been a friend and enjoyed her company. I am saddened by her loss, but like you, am grateful for having known her.
Again, my heartfelt condolences to you. May Janet's memory always be a blessing. We will be honored to visit the site. Over the years, we often acknowledged your mother’s birthday during this final meeting of the year, so this will be a welcome coincidence.
Alice Berman, SAI sorority sister
HI Dave.... Thanks for letting me know about this memorial to your Mother's life and her talents. I think she would be pleased and touched by a tribute such as this.... Talk to you soon.
Love, Dan Kelly, long time friend especially of Dave, but also of Drew, Janet and Rolv
We have wonderful memories of our dear friend, Janet. Memories dating from our days at Douglass and Rutgers and continuing through the happy days of retirement. We remember her from the time she first came with Sam when he joined the faculty at Rutgers. She has been a close friend for many many years. Her legendary hospitality included hosting Bob's retirement party in 1986 with some 80 attendees; her dinners, formal and informal, for her many friends and acquaintances; and the countless acts of kindness and generosity for which she was well known.
Jeanne and Janet, both sopranos and teachers of voice in nearby colleges, shared many experiences. They went on excursions together including two trips to Paris, a cruise to Alaska, and also one to the Caribbean. Janet had another mutual friend, Nancy Day, who lived in Oregon and shared in many adventures when Janet came to visit.
Janet will always remain a close friend and darling person in our memories. She was unique in so many ways, not the least of which was her loyal, warm and loving spirit, sense of humor, and her deeply personal and musical gifts.
We certainly wish you every success in assembling this memorial to your Mother. We loved her very much; Sam, was a good friend of mine. I was one of the last persons to see your father alive in the Princeton Hospital at the time of his death. He also was a good and loyal soul. I miss them both.
Jeanne and Bob Lincoln, friends, many loving phone calls and emails were exchanged. Jeanne Lincoln, mezzo-soprano; Bob, composer and pianist, head of the department at Douglass College, Rutgers University where Sam taught.
Good morning David,
Thank you so much for including me in making selections.
We were so fond of Janet... a lovely friend. We all feel the loss.
Your project is a wonderful tribute. Thank you.
I would like to have Angstwagen by her friend Rolv included.
I'm looking forward to May 14th.
Nick and Marjorie (Ramirez Polydorou), friends
We remember Gloucester, the beach, your German Shepherd dog "Wolf" (we pronounced it "Volf," right?), and things like that.
Anyway, I hope you hear from folks. Flossie said she had spoken with you and is "collecting her thoughts" to share with you about your mom--she was your mom's accompanist at her early singing lessons, sang with her--I'm hopeful she will have stories to share you can write up and post along with all the other info. I'm looking forward to May 14!
Penni (Nancy Faxon Golowka), friend, daughter of Janet's choir director: George Faxon at Trinity Church, Boston.
Both Emily (See May 14) and Penni sent lovely condolence cards. Walter sent his good wishes.
On Tuesday I played for Janet's lessons with Madame Sedelius and then Sam would met Janet for a date. I performed with Janet and Sam at Trinity Church Boston. We graduated together and visited Janet at the houses in Gloucester and in New Jersey.
Flossie Dunn, accompanist and friend. We exchanged long phone calls reminiscing about life, music and, of course, Janet.
I met Janet in 1957, I think it was, when I became a member of the Church of the Resurrection in NYC and the following year joined the choir, of which she was a member and the designate soprano soloist. Many of us in that choir became close friends, and several of my friendships endured for decades. (One still does, over 50 years later.) Janet was not only a fine soprano, she was a nice person and fun to be around.
Had I a better memory I'd have a long list of stories and anecdotes, but just now I recall only one. I forget what piece we were singing (or perhaps a movement of a longer work), but I think it was for unaccompanied voices and started with a soprano solo on a high note. Janet received a soft note from the organ, but what she heard instead was a much louder whistle from one of those ancient hearing aids being worn by an elderly parishioner who always sat in the front pew and turned her hearing aid all the way up . It was a full step above what should have been Janet's starting pitch, so she--and we--sang the entire number a whole step too high.
The only other item I recall from those early years is that I visited her and Sam at their summer place in Gloucester. [David, correct that if it's wrong.] I remember enjoying lovely views of the sea, and learning the difference between blueberries and huckleberries, both of which she had on the property.
After I left the choir I took organ lessons for a year from Sam, thanks to which I had a job as a summer substitute at what was then St. Thomas' Chapel (near Bloomingdale's), and is now All Saints' Church.
After I left NYC I kept in touch with Janet over the years, mostly just at Christmas, although I think I saw her once or twice on my rare visits to the city. The last time I remember clearly is a comparatively recent visit--possibly in 2004. Somewhere in one of my 3 dozen photo albums I know there is a picture of Janet, Renate and Charles Brand, Clair Van Ausdall, and me, sitting at a table having coffee or lunch or something. Janet was still very much herself, and the loss of her ability to communicate soon after that was a loss of someone special in my life.
Joan (Jody) Falconer, friend
I first met Janet Wheeler Walter when I was twenty-three and a new "New Yorker"
I was hired at Church of the Resurrection Episcopal as her understudy. Yes, that is true. She was the soloist and I was there to back her up. We became instant friends and a close friendship continued for all these many years. I will always think of her as a sister and my dearest friend.
She was a brilliant musician, the most generous of people, funny and able to laugh at herself with a great sense of humor. She was my daughter's Godmother and was wonderful in that role. She never bragged about her accomplishments, which were numerous, and one only found out about them by accident.
She gave back to the community in which she lived, volunteering in nursing homes and with Meals on Wheels.
It impossible to innumerate in this short space her many virtues but, needless to say, she will be greatly missed.
Rest in peace, Janet, and lift your beautiful voice with the Angels.
I love you
Charlotte (Regni Lord), friend and "honorary sister" many loving phone calls were exchanged (See RECORDINGS)
Janet was my Godmother. I can’t remember a time in my life when she wasn’t there for me. She was always so supportive and excited about everything I pursued. And all along the way, as she showed great interest in my accomplishments, she hardly ever spoke of all her HER accomplishments, of which there were so many. She was the personification of humility.
Her sense of humor was also wonderful. She loved to laugh. Some of my family’s favorite stories are things that Janet did or said. She was a true character.
Every summer my husband, Henry, and daughter, Sofie, would travel to see Janet. We always enjoyed these visits. We would have wonderful conversations and Sofie would always leave Janet with a drawing, all of which were proudly displayed throughout her house. She was a part of our family, and we hers.
I last saw Janet in September. My mother and I took a day trip to see her. She was so excited that we were coming to visit. She wore a bright, flowered shirt, with her hair pulled back in a darling ponytail. She looked so lovely. On the drive home my mother and I realized we hadn’t taken any pictures. We were so disappointed about that because I think we both realized that was probably the last time we would see her. Even without a photo, though, I will always have that image of Janet etched into my mind: a vibrant, flowery, beautiful woman, full of life and love and kindness.
I am so grateful that she was a part of my life for so long. What a blessing!
Marissa Regni, God-daughter, many loving phone calls were exchanged, (see RECORDINGS)
Cards, visits and phone messages from (among others): Bob Hubbard and Bill Greeves, Drew's dads; Melissa Hubbard, Drew's sister; Paul David Walter, Dave's cousin; Bobby Tu and Jim Carbone; Arlene and Joe; and David and Lynn, Dave and Drew's neighbors..