Janice was born to Ralph and Lois Phillips on June 10, 1946 in Albany, Oregon. She was born three years after her sister Carolyn, and was followed eleven years later by her younger sister Gayle. When Jan was three, her family moved to Stayton, Oregon, where she grew up and attended Stayton High. She recently recalled a happy memory sitting on her daddy’s shoulders as they watched a holiday parade in Stayton.
After graduation, Jan moved to Salem, and worked as a medical and dental receptionist. Jan’s first marriage to Dennis Pakulak blessed her with two sons, Jayson and Matthew.
In the early 80’s, Jan and her sons began attending the Salem Free Methodist Church. In the summer of 1982, she met Lloyd Lowry at church and invited him to attend a Bill Gaither concert with the church singles group. Soon they were dating and on July 9, 1983, they said the vows that defined their 39 years of marriage, “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death parts us.”
Jan switched from working mom to stay-at-home mom a year after her marriage to Lloyd. She loved being there when the guys came home from school and work. She enjoyed her role as homemaker. She carefully washed and ironed Lloyd’s work clothes. (No laundry service has ever treated button-down oxfords with such care.) She provided delicious, healthy meals for her family. Her home was decorated with comfortable furnishings, family pictures, patriotic displays and encouraging scriptures.
She and Lloyd traveled to various track meets and other games to watch Jayson and Matt. The newly-blended parents grew together in their faith, listening to favorite Christian teachers like Chuck Swindoll and James Dobson on the radio. Jesus was central to their life as a family. Jan supplemented the family income through several home businesses, selling jewelry and nail care products, as well as working in a booth at the Oregon State Fair for many years.
In 1989, her first grandchild Melissa was born to Jayson and Patty. She LOVED being Gramma! She was always ready to babysit her grandchildren, many evenings keeping them for supper when Lloyd got home from work. She would share Bible stories with her grandkids, helping them to know the Savior she so loved. She also taught them manners, how to cough into their elbow and other grandmotherly wisdom. For many years, her home was the place for birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter celebrations. She focused on the true meaning of these days, but also enjoyed making holiday meals, giving gifts and adding seasonal touches to her home decor. She took joy in finding gifts that would have special significance to each recipient.
Jan and Lloyd made many trips to Florida, the Oregon coast, central Oregon, Maui, Seattle and the Puget Sound. They enjoyed traveling Oregon’s backroads. Way before GPS was a thing, Lloyd relied on his “JPS” (Jan’s Positioning System.). She helped her directionally-challenged spouse find their way to out-of-the-way destinations many times! Jan enjoyed their trip to Israel immensely, as it made Bible passages come to life. Their last big trip was an Alaskan cruise in 2017, with Chuck Swindoll.
Over 40 years, she volunteered at her churches in various roles: visiting church newcomers, welcoming those who came in the doors as a greeter, working with singles and in small groups. She also volunteered in the office of Salem’s Union Gospel Mission.
Another way Jan served others was in making sure her mom and her special friend Ruth were properly cared for in their later years. She interviewed group home owners and caregivers and oversaw several transitions to various retirement centers and group homes for both women over many years.
She loved shopping, which she called “retail therapy”. She could spend hours out shopping and come home with only a few special treasures, proud that she had spent a pittance for these items. She especially loved yard sales and consignment shops. When cancer reduced her strength and mobility, she mastered the art of the single click purchase on Amazon!
She also loved her girlfriends, each one unique and special to her. She really enjoyed going out to lunch for conversation or to concerts and women’s conferences with her friends.
She loved her home in South Salem, where she taught Lloyd the joys of puzzling, bird watching and container gardening. Her favorite spot in the sun room, where she sat in her La-Z-Boy and enjoyed the goldfinch pool parties in the fountain and her beloved hummingbirds.
Everyone who knew Jan appreciated her kindness and gentle spirit. She was a very good listener, but would give you her opinion if you asked (and sometimes when you didn’t…). Typically quiet in a group setting, she loved conversing with individuals over lunch or a cup of tea.
Jan showed incredible courage and grace during her last months with us. She really didn’t want to let you know how sick she was. As much as she could, she kept living her life. She was at church in July, even though it took painful effort to walk to her usual pew. She kept going to out to eat, asking Lloyd to drive them to Chick-Fil-A the day it opened. She and Lloyd had one last movie date in mid-August, when she needed a wheelchair to get to her seat. Jan never complained; never said “why me? She trusted her Lord and used to say, “we all have a number to our days”, and didn’t worry about how many more she had. Not too many weeks prior to her home-going, she told Lloyd and others, with a smile, “I don’t know how to die; I’ve never done it before.” But she did know how. With courage, grace and a strong faith in God, she had several precious visits with family and friends during the week after she came home from the hospital. Then, early on Labor Day, 2022, as Lloyd held her hand, she quietly slipped into eternity and the arms of her Savior, Jesus.
Jan was preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Lois Phillips and her older sister Carolyn Rogers. She is survived by her husband, Lloyd Lowry; her sons Jayson Pakulak & Matthew (Kristin) Pakulak; sister Gayle (Mark) Cantrell; grandchildren Melissa (Kenny) Johnson, Rachel (Kyle) Lent, Hannah (Sean) Wuilliez, Andrew (Malina) Pakulak, Aaron Pakulak, Emily Pakulak, Ashton Pakulak, Grace Pakulak & Alex Pakulak; and great-grandsons Sawyer & Mason Lent. She also had a number of nieces and nephews whom she dearly loved.