A beloved musician and teacher, Janice Marie Anderson, 79, is being remembered by friends and students at her recent passing.
From her obituary; ” Jan taught music at Viking and Newfolden Elementary schools as well as private music lessons for 35 years. She was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church for her entire life where she sang in the choir, directed the youth choir and was a member of the quilt guild. She played the bassoon in the Northland Community Band and the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra for over 40 years.”
Jan was my music teacher at Viking Elementary. I knew her then as Mrs Klopp. She and I had a great relationship that lasted over to my adult years; anytime we saw each other, we would speak for a few minutes. This friendship was created through her patience and connection with me. It was also a product of my admiration for her and a mutual respect.
Jan and I had a wonderful shared habit, we both enjoyed the campy, 1970’s thriller series, “Kolchak: the Night Stalker.” I always looked forward to music lessons as she and I would discuss the finer points of this now cult classic. I would even see her in the hallways of Viking School, and we would talk about whether the story was believable and scary. I mean there was a big difference between a “Jack the Ripper” episode and say “the Boogie Man-“ better known to “Stalker” afficionados as Paramafait.
Jan and I both enjoyed Halloween. Jan would wear orange socks for Halloween and even had a necklace made of chicken bones that she often saved for the occasion. She sometimes dressed in costume and stayed in character for long periods of time. It was quite a performance.
I posted Jan’s obituary on the Viking, Minnesota Facebook page. People were obviously sad at the loss but they also shared happy memories of one of Viking’s favorite teachers. The quotes included; “Wonderful teacher,” “She was a wonderful coworker and so much fun!” There was even a story of one student who brought a cow bone to show and tell. Jan wanted one too! I thought about this for awhile and my thought was that she would have used the bone as a percussion instrument.
That brings us to Jan’s passion, her music. She loved to make noise and was only made happier when others joined in this joyful pastime. Jan pushed us to try new music and to understand the story behind the songs. She also wanted us to say use the correct pronunciation, even if it was beyond our experience. I remember the first time I sang in “Egg-Shell-Sees-Day-O” the first time at Christmas. It was her way off helping us remember how to say the phrase correctly. I was ten or eleven then and I am 54 now so I guess it worked.
Maybe that is the point with Jan; making a positive impression on another life is quite a lifetime accomplishment. As a teacher you have a lot of opportunities to do this and Jan used those opportunities to help a lot of young people enjoy a lifetime gift-music. My condolences to Jan’s family and my deep thanks to her for a life well lived.