Loving was her superpower. Her love lifted spirits, enriched communities and inspired multitudes. Janet Woodward loved generously and inclusively, directing compassion toward a stranded motorist during Mount St. Helens’ rain of ash, toward friends, family and strangers, toward the owner of the dog that bit her hand. Her high-beam smile lit up the room.
Born to a forest ranger and a poet in Roseburg, Ore., shortly after the Great Depression, Janet grew up in a loving and resourceful household. She and her identical twin, Joyce, enjoyed the care and companionship of their older sisters, Marilyn and Corinne. Fruit trees, fresh walnuts and venison filled the larder, and a regular stream of visiting friends and family filled the dining room.
Her upbringing near the Umpqua River and National Forest inspired a lifelong love of the outdoors and of natural living. Janet raised her kids in Spokane, Wash., on carob, puffed brown rice and homemade, whole-wheat bread. The family camped, took road trips to the Oregon Coast, scrambled on boulders and swam in lakes.
Janet pursued a range of professional passions, from leading in the Girl Scouts organization and founding a La Leche League group, to managing a collection of natural-foods stores and later serving as a Humanist Celebrant. She found – and built – community in the Unitarian Church and cared for others in their final years. She loved yoga, swinging in the hammock and walking among the hazelnut trees near the river with her partner, Steve. Her kindness and joy of discovery drew her to leadership and made her that person everyone wanted in their group.
She graduated from Roseburg High School in 1952 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in 1956.
Janet died peacefully at home on April 1, 2020. She was 85 years old but seemed 20 years younger. She is survived by her partner, Steve Phelps, of Roseburg; her two children, Max and Heidi deLaubenfels, and their spouses, Gretchen Meller and Harris Clarke, all of Seattle; sister Joyce Swanson of Roseburg; Allan and Lynne deLaubenfels, father and “bonus” mom to Max and Heidi, of Spokane; and adoring cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ross Woodward, and her sisters, Marilyn Pierce and Corinne McTaggart.
A celebration of life will be held whenever it is again safe to gather. Meanwhile, Janet would want any remembrances directed to her beloved Umpqua Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Roseburg, 2167 NW Watters Ave., Roseburg, Oregon 97471.