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Janice Frerichs, very much a feminist before there was a popular term for it, finally capitulated on her right to self-determination, passing away on March 17, 2023, at the age of 90. Love, family, and friendship bound her to life. “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.”
Janice Mae Renander Frerichs, born on the kitchen table of the family’s small farm near Pender, Nebraska on September 18, 1932, was the middle of three children born to Floyd Richard Renander and Lillian Margaret Renander (née Anderson). Her childhood was divided between the farm and Omaha, Nebraska.
An Omaha Technical High School graduate at the age of 16 and a member of the First Covenant Church of Omaha, Janice began work in 1949 as a legal secretary. Her sharp tongue won the respect of many a boss, and a judge once let her father off on a speeding ticket after asking from the bench, “Are you Janice’s father?” On the old manual typewriters, she typed better than 100 words a minute. This presaged her ability to always find work, support her family, and quit when it suited her.
Much as she valued work, Janice relished an adventure, and among the more salient adventures in her life was the trip to Sweden in 1954 with Doris Ackerstrom. Those four months, and the two weeks in continental Europe, equipped her with many instructional (and often hilarious) tales as well as further proof of her independent spirit. It also inspired her very personal interpretation of Swedish-American cuisine.
On January 17, 1958, Janice married Herman Wilhelm Frerichs III, making this the 65th year of marriage for Jan and Herm. She shared life with her husband, a musician and Lutheran pastor, as he interned in Connecticut and North Dakota and served congregations in Newman Grove and Tekamah in Nebraska, Russell and Salina in Kansas, and Springfield, Missouri. Together they raised three sons, nurtured four grandchildren, and lived lives of service to God’s call.
Janice welcomed all to her home. Friends, family, fellow parishioners, and unexpected guests from near and very far would come just for a meal, and sometimes for a meal and a bed too. She enjoyed stories of people’s travel and insights won over meals that often included her mother’s signature braided cardamom bread and currant cookies.
Jan and Herm shared a love of music and outdoor activity that was passed to their children and grandchildren. Early on, it was tandem cycling. Later the pair took days-long hikes in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and Colorado. Their weekly drives through the countryside looking for an untried restaurant in an unexplored town were another source of good stories. All this – the food, the music, the adventure, the friendship and stories – transfigures in their grandchildren’s counted cross-stitch, their baking and Swedish pancakes, their travel and embrace of the new, and their appreciation, performance, and teaching of music.
“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Janice was preceded in death by her parents Floyd and Lillian; brother Clifford R. Renander and his wives Phyllis and Donna; sister Phyllis Y. Eichler and husband Harold; grandson Echo Maya. She is survived by her husband Herman; sons Warren (Miranda Grant), David (Dawn), and Karl (Marin Ritter); grandchildren Daniel (Amanda), Justine (Eric Anderson), Megan Hulse (Ricky), and Astrid; great-grandchild Eliza.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 1st at 11:00 am at Atonement Lutheran Church, 9948 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Kansas 66212. The service will be livestreamed at https://www.youtube.com/c/AtonementLutheranChurchOverlandParkKS .
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Lambda Legal ( https://lambdalegal.org/ ) in her name.