Sister Janet Guenther, age 73 Milwaukee, Wisconsin and formerly of Crofton, Nebraska died on Saturday, November 14, 2020 at the Sacred Heart Convent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A private Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Crofton with the Rev. An Duy Phan officiating. Burial will be at St. Rose of Lima cemetery in Crofton. A public memorial service will be planned for a later date. Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz Funeral Home in Crofton.
Pallbearers will be Larry Leader, Joe Leader, Kelly Hegge, Bill Guenther, and Tony Guenther.
Sister Janet Guenther was born on January 25, 1947 at home in Crofton, Nebraska to Fritz and Hildegard Rose (Steffen) Guenther. She was the sixth of seven children born to Fritz and Hildegard. She was raised on the family dairy farm, which is still in the family today. Jan attended St. Rose Grade school in Crofton and graduated from Crofton High School in 1965. Over the years Jan maintained a very close relationship with her family, staying involved in their lives and as the family grew with new nieces and nephews making sure that she was close to them as well. The Guenther family enjoyed the simple things in life like a good game of cards, musical sing-alongs and quality time together.
After graduation from high school, Jan entered the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, WI and was received in 1966. She began attending Alverno College and later earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Creighton University in Omaha. Jan liked to refer to herself as Jesuit trained but having the heart of a Franciscan.
Following graduation from Creighton University, Jan served as an elementary teacher at St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Pius X grade schools in Omaha, St. Patrick’s parish grade school in Fremont, NE and at S. John the Baptist grade school in Petersburg, NE. Jan was a creative and masterful teacher as she found unique ways to engage her students in learning and made learning fun for them. During these years of teaching, Jan enjoyed making new friends and always enjoyed the company of the School Sister community. Jan loved to play tricks on visiting sisters by doing things like short-sheeting their beds. She could often be found at parish festivals and school events in her clown costume, making balloon animals for the children but she never did quite master the art of juggling.
After her years of teaching, Jan went on to pursue a masters’ degree in Pastoral Care from the University of Seattle in Seattle, Washington. To complete this program of studies, Jan moved to Tempe, Arizona and began her ministry in pastoral care at Resurrection Parish serving in hospital outreach, ministering to new parishioners, and was engaged in adult education and evangelization outreach with those returning to participation in the Church.
Following her time at Resurrection Parish, Jan moved on to serve in pastoral care at Sunquest Care Center, Desert Sunquest Rehab and Care Center, and Banner Desert Hospital as a resident chaplain.
After nearly ten years in pastoral care and hospital ministry, Jan returned to teaching in Arizona, teaching at St. Mary Basha Elementary School for 18 years.
During her time in Arizona, Jan endeared herself to many people, developing lasting relationships with former students and parishioners, and was “adopted” into the family of associate Sandy Day, whom Jan lived with for many years. She often joined Sandy and her family at Arizona State University sporting events and came to Omaha for the College World Series baseball games for several years. Jan wasn’t necessarily a big sports fan – mostly she came to enjoy the socialization these events offered.
In 2013, Jan was called by the community to serve as the Ministry Director for sisters residing in Chicago and Illinois, and 27 other states. Jan enjoyed this ministry as it allowed her to utilize her pastoral care skills and meet many more Sisters.
Two years later Jan began to experience health issues that curtailed her ministry, although she moved into serving as a part-time chaplain at New Cassel Retirement Center in Omaha for two years. Then the health challenges mounted and Jan had to reluctantly relinquish the ministry she loved at New Cassel. In spite of her own health concerns, Jan continued to serve as an ambassador for new residents at New Cassel and she started a stroke victim’s support group there.
Eventually Jan sought additional medical consultation in Arizona for the residual effects of her strokes. Finally after a valiant effort to overcome the health issues Jan peacefully accepted God’s will that He was in charge and that she would join her parents and sisters Della and Ernestine in heaven at God’s call. Jan, you have been a true Franciscan woman – one who gave of your whole self to others and expected nothing in return. We will miss you and look forward to the day when we can be reunited with you in our heavenly home. God bless you!
Jan is survived by her two sisters, Lois Leader of Crofton, and Donna Mae Guenther of Crofton; two brothers and spouses Donovan (Beverly) Guenther of Crofton, Daryl (Dorothy) Guenther of Crofton; many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters Ernestine Hegge and Della Kaup; three brothers-in-law Conrad Kaup, Alvin Hegge, and Lyle Leader.