Obituary of Janis Baker
Loving mother, wife, grandmother, & friend, Janis passed away on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. She leaves behind beloved daughter & son-in-law Florence & Trey Stadler, son Steven Baker & dearest grandson, Aaron Stadler.
She is predeceased by her first husband Carl Baker, second husband Guido Ruggiero, her parents Arthur and Florence Granite, and stepmother Esther Granite. Family was always at the center of Janis’ life, and she loved fully.
Janis will be missed by her brother & sister-in-law Drs. James & Betsy Granite, sister Elaine Cohen, sister-in-law Ruth Baker, cousin Harvey Granite, her many nephews & nieces, and longtime caring friends Gerri & Sandy Appelbaum, Eileen and Milt Jachles, Shirley Mink, Shirley Gordon, Reenie & Fran Levy, Samm Baker Olenik. Forgive us if we leave anyone out as Janis cared so much about the people in her life.
Janis was born in 1931. Her mother died when Janis was young, thus she and her sister Elaine became, at an early age, “the Women of the House.” Making and keeping a good home was a passion for Janis and she did it with artistry. She loved the music of Eydie Gormé, Michael Bublé, Tony Bennett, and other classic Italian-American crooners. Janis loved to sing and dance, and even in later years could still “cut a rug.”
However, the driving force in Janis’ life was her children and grandson. No one could have had a more devoted mother and grandmother. She forever showered her strong love upon us.
Janis looked at life through her own special lens, and no one else had that same lens. She was in every way “a character.” It was said of Janis that time spent with her was a journey, not a destination.
May her journey now bring her much deserved peace and rest.
Our gratitude is expressed for the special care provided to Janis by her many doctors, particularly Dr. Lon Baratz; & for the warmth shown to her by the wonderful people at Heathwood Assisted Living. Above all the skill, dedication, & compassion given to Janis by everyone at the Jewish Home-3rd Floor West, & most recently, Hospice of Rochester was a great comfort to her family.
Graveside services will be held on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 10 AM at Britton Road Cemetery.
Please join the family for a small reception to follow from 12-3 PM at the Jewish Home of Rochester.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Jewish Senior Life in her memory.
Thank you all for being here.
Today I stand here in sadness and G-D help me, some relief. Many of you know that in the last 10 years or so I have frequently struggled in dealing with my mother, Janis. I always knew that it was her inner demons that plagued her throughout her life that often caused Janis to be …. challenging.
Many times when my darling father was alive, we would call each other to express our frustration and sometimes anger at Janis’ irrational behavior. However, Dad would always say to me, “Now we all know that your mother is crazy, - but she is still your mother.” And one of the last things my father said to me before he died was “take care of your mother.” In these last years, as Janis’ need to be taken care of intensified along with her emotional distress, it was hearing my father’s voice saying, “She’s still your mother. Take care of your mother.” that gave me strength to carry on.
And yet, I often felt guilty that my mother deserved more from me because Janis was the ultimate good mother. It was that role as caregiver – wife, mother grandmother & homemaker - that gave her the most joy & at which she was extremely accomplished. .
Janis began developing her extraordinary mothering skills when she was a teenager and her adored father, Dusty Granite, married the striking Esther, who brought her beautiful 2-year-old son Jimmy into my mother’s life. Janis was thrilled to be able to bestow her bountiful love & attention on the “golden cherub,” as mother referred to Jimmy. She raved about how good Jimmy was - and still is.
At 21, Janis gave birth to me and then 3 years later, to my brother, Steven. Mother often said that she never wanted us to feel jealous of one another & always made sure to lavish equal amounts of abundant affection upon Steven & myself. She succeeded - as Steven & I have always loved each other dearly.
My mother loved music and had a fine, jazzy singing voice. Some mornings, she would enter the kitchen singing. I have very fond memories of the bedtime lullabies that Janis would sing to me – “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” and “Happy Talk” were my favorites.
I remember how very beautiful my mother would look dressed up in one of her stylish cocktail dresses when she & my Dad would go out to a party. It generally took Janis a long time to get ready and much to my father’s annoyance, she was usually late. She somehow became more punctual later in life and was proud of that.
Throughout my childhood and into my teen years, I always felt that ours was a happy home filled with great love. I was not aware of Janis’ inner conflicts.
It was a difficult adjustment for my mother when I left home for college and Steven was a teenager, more on his own. She then had no children to take care of. At that same time, Janis lost her beloved father as well. These losses took a toll on my mother.
I was away for most of the turbulent times that led to my mother leaving our home to live a different life on her own. I know that it was a very heart wrenching and brave step for her to take. However, Janis always strived to keep the family together. In time and even when she lived with Guido, we would all be together as a family.
Years later, when my son, Aaron (the Prince) was born, Janis was in heaven again in being the most devoted, loving grandmother. She would frequently take care of Aaron when I worked on Saturdays or when Aaron was too sick to go to daycare. Aaron loved to be at Grandma Janis’ home. She & Guido enjoyed taking Aaron on wonderful adventures. We were lucky to be able to have such a special grandma for our son.
When Janis would tell me that I was doing a good job as a mother, I would always reply, “Well, Mother, I learned from the very best.”
And that is the truth.
My mother, Janis, was a beautiful woman from the inside out. She possessed the joyous Granite smile that would light up her face “with gladness”.” I was at her bedside holding her hand during her last moments on this earth. We were listening to some of her favorite songs. One of the last songs she heard was the song “Smile.”
Rest in peace my Little Mom and give my love to Dad.
(Intro: I have some words that our son Aaron wanted me to say for him today. He regrets that he is unable to be here. He is in the process of moving to F.T. to begin a new position as an Assistant Public Defender Aaron always called my mother : Grandma Janis – in full.)
Aaron Stadler words for Grandma Janis
My Grandma Janis was always full of love and devotion for me. I have special memories of my Grandma Janis and her dear husband Guido helping to raise me as a child.
Grandma Janis would often mimic me calling to her from my crib, “Graand-Maa” she would sing. She loved to show me a photo of her cradling me as a newborn in her arms as she sat in my parents’ living room rocking chair. She would say that she was in heaven at that moment.
As I grew older, I had the pleasure of going out to hear jazz music and sharing many meals with my Grandma Janis.
Even though I did grow weary of Grandma Janis constantly gushing over me, I still felt very lucky to have such a great Grandma that had so much love for me.
While at times I felt like the world was against me, I could always call my Grandma Janis and expect a flurry of over-the-top compliments to make me feel better.
Grandma Janis requested two things of me: not to be a “Bum” and to never forget my Grandma Janis. Trying not to be a bum is always a work in progress, but if one thing is for certain, I will never forget my wonderful Grandma Janis.
I love you Grandma Janis. Sending hugs and kisses your way.