Throughout her rich and rewarding journey, Janet Lemke lived a life filled with the people and experiences she loved. She had a contagious zest for life that drew others near, and she was forever accepting of everyone she met. Janet deeply loved her family and was an active part of the lives of so many young people whose days were greatly enriched because of her touch. Her strength was truly inspiring, and her faith was the cornerstone on which everything else was built. Janet made the most of every moment she was given, and her loved ones will forever cherish the memories they created with such an extraordinary woman.
It only seems fitting that Janet’s journey began during a time that was as vibrant as she was. It was the 1950s when technology was rapidly changing. With the growing number of televisions, shows like Father Knows Best greatly shaped our view of the American family. It was just as this decade was dawning that Joseph and Theresa (Niedzwiecki) Lemke welcomed a baby girl into their hearts and home on July 9, 1950. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Janet C. was the second of six children in her family, joining her older brother, John, and followed by her younger siblings, Elizabeth “Betty,” David, Margaret “Margie,” and Judith “Judy.” Her birthday was forever a day to celebrate as she had the time of her life year after year on that special day.
In many ways Janet was a young girl of her generation. The family lived on Franklin Place on Milwaukee’s East Side and also enjoyed family vacations on a lake in Northern Wisconsin during the summer. Janet’s father worked as a lead man in a local tannery while her mother was a receptionist at a nursing home. It was as a young girl that she came to embrace the Catholic faith, and this faith would always be an important part of her life. Janet was fun-loving and even adventurous, which often resulted in a bandaged body part. She was a fun loving child who deeply loved her family and also had a special place in her heart for animals, especially the family pets including their dogs, cats, gerbils, and hamsters. Her dogs were always very near and dear to Janet’s heart including her favorites, Mitsy, Cookie, and Stella. She could often be seen walking her dog throughout the neighborhood, which later became a great source of exercise that was vital for Janet’s health. A lifelong member of St. Hedwig Parish, she was very active in various church activities. Janet attended St. Hedwig Grade School and St. John Cathedral High School, graduating in 1968.
In 1970, Janet was diagnosed with lupus, which put her college education on hold. Because there was limited knowledge of the disease at the time she became part of experimental treatment and medications for the disease. Janet had more than her share of medical issues as she also developed breast cancer and underwent several surgeries and treatments for lupus over the years. Throughout every ordeal, however, Janet had an upbeat attitude and developed a great sense of humor. Her quick wit and her propensity for puns meant that “she was very punny!” Janet did go on to graduate from U.W.M. (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee) with a BS in Social Work in 1976.
Always one to be busy, Janet was a woman of many interests. She was an avid reader with an extensive library in her home, and she always encouraged others to read as well. Janet was also a writer who filled journals with thoughts and accountings from her life. She also kept up with current events and photography. Janet loved taking photos and became the family photographer, which later led to her becoming a photographer for friends and within her neighborhood as well. She was a passionate Green Bay Packer fan, loved the Wizard of Oz, and enjoyed playing Sheepshead with her card club. When she wasn’t reading books, Janet enjoyed reading the funny papers and watching General Hospital. Janet was a gifted conversationalist with a warm and genuine personality that allowed her to carry on a conversation with anyone and everyone. In fact, someone who met Janet became a friend in no time! Although she never married, her life was filled with children including her nieces, nephews, friends’ children, and neighborhood children. She was a godmother to several children and was known to load up the car with neighborhood kids to take them swimming.
All who knew Janet Lemke would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She faced struggles throughout more than half of her life, but she was consumed by an unwavering faith and positive spirit that were truly inspiring. Janet offered everyone love without condition, and she was eager to serve in whatever way she could. Although life will never be the same without her here, she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever cherish.
Janet Lemke died on Tuesday February 2, 2016. Janet’s family includes her siblings, John (Jean) Lemke, Betty Lemke, David (Debora) Lemke, Margaret (Mark) Amato, and Judy (Jim) Martine; and nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends. Janet was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Theresa Lemke. Visitation will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016 at Three Holy Women Parish – St. Hedwig Church 1704 N. Humboldt Ave Milwaukee, WI 53202 from 9:00 a.m. until time of the Mass of Christian Burial at 12:00 p.m. Private interment Holy Cross Cemetery. If desired, memorials in Janet’s name to Lupus Foundation of America – Wisconsin Chapter 2600 N Mayfair Rd Ste 320 Milwaukee, WI 53226. Arrangements provided by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss (414) 276-5122, www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com.