Janice was just shy of 30 years with the department as a Public Health office assistant when she unexpectedly passed away in early April.
Coworkers and family members spoke of the immediate loss felt by Janice’s death. Suddenly the quiet, stubborn and considerate daughter, mother, grandmother, sister and friend was gone.
Department officials invited Janice’s family to attend the ceremony. Janice’s daughters, Michelle Anderson and Meleah Geren, accepted a plaque recognizing Janice’s 30 years of service. They also received a knife as Janice’s customary 5-year employee gift.
Anderson explained Janice received a knife every fifth year in an effort to collect enough for her grandchildren. Five knives were collected the first 25 years to cover her five grandsons. The final knife will go to her granddaughter.
Co-workers Kathy Johnson and Mona Hunt expressed their sorrow of losing Janice.
“When we tried and to go in there to do the things that continued on, we didn’t know exactly what to do,” Johnson said. “We called so many people, and you wouldn’t believe what they said. They would tell us, ‘Janice did it. Janice did it.’ Nobody knew how to do it.”
Johnson added, “She was very, very important and valuable to us.”
Gathered health department workers took an opportunity to share their favorite stories with family and friends.
Deanna Thacker, Janice’s sister, thanked the health department for honoring her sister.
“As a member of the family, I want to thank you for this. It is very special,” Thacker said.” It means a lot to us. She is looking down on us tonight.”
Meleah, Thacker, Anderson and Johnnie Ratcliffe, Janice’s mother, sat down to reminisce about Geren.
The four ladies described their recently deceased loved one as a caring, loving, strong practical joker who would do anything for any of them at a moment’s notice.
Thacker took a moment to describe her “little sis.”
“Janice had the sweetest smile and the best laugh. As kids, we fought a lot, and even though she was my little sister, she could always get the best of me. That’s because I would always laugh when she pinned me down,” Thacker explained. “But as adults we could talk to each other and help out with life’s ups and downs. We often called each other Thelma and Louise.”
Thacker added, “Life will not be the same without her. I believe she is watching over us and will keep everyone safe.”
Anderson agreed saying she felt like her mother was still watching over their family.
“I know most people around here are pretty sick of the rain, but my momma had a thing with the rain. Anytime she had to go to Chattanooga or Highway 68, it never failed, it always rained, and she hated going out to the rain,” Anderson said. “The day she passed, it was pouring down rain. It seemed fitting as she was making her journey to Heaven.”
Anderson, continued, “It has rained a lot. For me, it has been a sign she knows how much we are hurting.”
The four ladies plan to make a trip to Daytona, Fla., in Janice’s honor next year prior to the day she passed away.