Janet Elizabeth (Henry) Williams
May 21, 1952 — February 8, 2023
Janet would have said that all really good stories begin in Perrysburg, the town where she was born to James Lloyd Henry and Darlene Ling Henry. Her vivid memories of childhood were filled with stories of her grandparents (both the Lings and the Henrys), aunts and uncles she liked and admired, but most of all her cousins and siblings. Vista Villa near Port Clinton was the site of many summer adventures on weekends and vacations. She might have noticed the scenery, but if she did, she ignored it. Her narratives were always about the people, family and friends, and how they spent their time. Janet had a zest for games, indoors or outdoors, organized or spontaneous that lasted her entire life.
It is challenging to attempt a "life story" for Janet, because those who know her best will all agree that her character, attitude, and spirit never really changed from childhood to maturity. Some of us acquire a veneer of skepticism in order to appear grown up or world-wise, Janet never bothered to hide her emotions. One was never in any doubt about what she was feeling at any moment. Most of us learn to lie, and practice it to a fine art. It is certain that Janet faced situations in her life which required a stretch of the truth. It never came easily for her, and she always confessed, even when it was embarrasing or painful to do so.
Janet was a gifted student and the most avid reader ever encountered by anyone. She was enormously popular in school and accomplished many things as a cheerleader, band member, and dedicated club member. Even 50 years after leaving Perrysburg High School, she still kept in contact with classmates who now live many miles from Perrysburg. Her college years at The Ohio State University were shortened by marriage, but Janet packed more activities and friendships into two years than most of us could have in four years.
As a young adult, she was married to her high school sweetheart, William G. (Bill) Thielman, and they enjoyed nearly a decade of the yuppy lifestyle (although the term didn't really exist in the 1970's). She talked often about dressing up to go to the opera, to the symphony, to concerts, and traveled extensively on the back of Bill's BMW motorcycle. Their daughter Sarah Louise (Heidel) came along in 1981 and Janet shifted into motherhood, took to it naturally, and never regretted the change, but always held on to the memories. When the marriage ended, Janet threw herself into the new role of single mother, and she and Sarah enjoyed a few years on their own. Janet and Bill set a good example for many couples in this day because they respected each other and maintained a civility that was remarkable. When Bill passed away, less than ninety days before Janet's passing, she shed tears openly and without shame, honoring his memory and her committment to him.
In 1988, a new man, Randall Lee (Randy) Williams, came into their lives and brought his two daughters, Erica Katherine (1980) and Emily Christine (Stelpflug) (1982). With remarkable grace, Janet added the role of stepmother to her skillset, and in 1990, Randy and Janet were married. In 1991, Timothy Christian arrived followed by Elizabeth Joy in 1993.
The last paragraphs of Janet's life story do not diminish her love of family and absolute dedication to her duties as wife, mother and grandmother, but they serve to illustrate the person Janet is in addition.
Above all else, Janet is a child of God. She feels a calling to minister to women (and the occasional very lucky man) and she did so with enthusiasm by befriending women she happened across of all ages, races, and religions. What follows is an extremely incomplete accounting of stories about Janet's friends. Perhaps you are one of them with whom I'm not familiar. If so, kindly contact me through the website and share your memories, it will help me hear her laughter again.
Janet saw a young mother in line at McDonalds one lunchtime who seemed a little upset. Janet asked her if she were all right, and the lady replied that she was new in town, and struggling to make friends. You all know what came next, Suzanne got an immediate invitation to our house for tea, and their relationship blossomed. I later found out that her husband insisted they drive by our house to check us out before the tea party because, "What kind of a person invites a total stranger into her home to make friends?"
Another close friendship was the product of a trip through the checkout at Kroger's. Janet had some supplies for a craft project at her Farm Girls (grown-up Girl Scouts) meeting. When Mary remarked about all the supplies, Janet described the craft and invited Mary to attend.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Janet did that sort of thing at least once a week for her entire adult life. She just didn't brag to me about it.
For me, I guess I'd say that I didn't really think of her as wife and lover, though she was. I thought of her more as my best friend and warm companion who honored me every day of her life by sharing her adventures with me.
Janet is also survived by her siblings, Patty, Peggy, Chrissy and Jim. I was priviledged to be a part of Janet's family for nearly 35 years, and I know they are missing her as much as I.
Finally, I'll admit to all of you that I never really understood what she saw in me either, but I'm very glad she did.
Please join us on Sunday April 23, 2023 at Waterville Community Church for an Open House Celebration of Janet's Life from 2:00 pm until 5:00 pm.
Janet's True Legacy:
From top left - clockwise
- Timothy Christian Williams
- Juniper Wilde Heidel
- Evelyn Sage Heidel
- Sarah Thielman Heidel, Erica Katherine Williams, Emily Christine Stelpflug, Elizabeth Joy Williams
- Holden Noelle Williams
- Noah Declan Williams