The last 3 years I have requested birthday cards from you for my Aunt Jan on June 1st. You have been very generous. She will not be making her birthday this year, and I feel that Memorial Day is a good day to notify you of her passing. I wrote the below, and with a few timeouts to regain my composure, managed to read it at the service. If you have time, I hope that a couple of you can get to know my Aunt Jan, the wonderful woman to whom so many of you took the time to share cards and best wishes to perk up her birthdays. We both really appreciated it. God bless betty May 3, 2006 Although today we gather to "officially" say goodbye to Jan Latta, my Aunt Jan, I am sure that all of us here will agree that she will always be with us. She was such a vital part of our growing up. Although biologically she may have had no children, she certainly mothered my cousins David, Don and me, and the generations to follow. We were always welcome at her house. Bring our friends? She'd say, "Sure, will be glad to see them." So we did. And she was truly glad to have us all there. Although she never married, she has always been the uniting force in this family. It was Aunt Jan who cared for her aging grandparents. It was Aunt Jan who cared for her own mother. And it was Aunt Jan who spoiled David, Don and me. We (the whole Latta family) was at their house almost every weekend that her father was home from Chicago. I think this was about twice a month during my childhood. She cooked a wonderful meal, and there was much laughter. I know she especially spoiled me. I was a picky eater. Dad used to make me gag down a big spoonful of Black Strap Molasses to supposedly make me eat. It was used with cattle, but I'm not sure it was meant for human consumption. I liked Aunt Jan's approach better. She knew that I loved chicken and noodles so she ALWAYS made me chicken and noodles. The rest of the family having beef stroganoff? Yep, but I got chicken and noodles anyway. At family gatherings most of the adults would go in the other room and talk. For kids, this is of course, very, very boring. So Aunt Jan and Grandma would spoil us. They'd play cards with us kids or some other games at the big dining room table. We all enjoyed it so. I got to stay for a whole week during the summers. We had Monopoly games that lasted the whole time. She would let me change the rules a little. I didn't have to get all the properties of a certain color to buy houses. We did some gardening, tried to catch the "Grinnies" which most people know as chipmunks and explored the wonderful closets upstairs. They were wonderful weeks. Here are some stories that she shared with me that I think you will enjoy too. Her father's parents and many aunts and uncles still lived in Monroe County when she was a kid. The train ride then from Canton to Monroe County was 5 or 6 hours Usually her dad only took the three older boys , but she remembered one time when the whole family went down. When they got there, it had been raining cats and dogs. It was so muddy. Her dad carried either her or Vernon and Uncle Tom carried the other, and her mother (Effie) carried her skirts. Aunt Jan was about l0 the last time she went to visit her Grandma Latta (Mary Jane) in Monroe County. Grandma told her she had the most beautiful hands she had ever seen. Aunt Jan figured her Grandmother had seen a lot of hands in her day; and since Jan had just done her nails, she kept on doing them the rest of her life. Mary Jane died in 1927. And when I was little, Aunt Jan continued the tradition and did my nails too. As a child Aunt Jan also always had to wear a bonnet outside and was not allowed to go barefoot. (That bonnet must have paid off because she always had very smooth skin. No wrinkles even when she was older.) The bonnets always had strings to tie under her chin so she could run with the boys without it blowing off. Here is one-hope you can see her running across the grass with it perched on her head. When Aunt Jan was little she loved playing with paper dolls. Her motherwould get fashion magazines but the pages did not show clothes in color so she saved the tissue paper and colored linings from envelopes to make doll clothes with color. She never did like drab things--bright and bold for Aunt Jan. Red was her favorite. She played a lot with her little cousin Marie. In later life Marie told Jan that she enjoyed reading so well because of all the many, many times Jan read to her when she was little. I noticed on Aunt Jan's old report cards that she missed a lot of school (36 days some years), and of course asked why. She said she had very bad earaches as a kid. They would drain, and she could not walk in the cold to school. Both Aunt Jan and my dad Vernon spent a lot of time, especially in the summers,at their Grandmother and Grandfather Schaub's down the road from here in East Sparta. (Dad would have been here today but is working through his own health issues.) Aunt Jan always had to dress up for the train ride there to see her Grandparents. She left play clothes at the Schaubs since she was there so often. Once Aunt Jan lost her hair ribbon at Grandma Schaub's, and Grandma almost didn't let her go home, but she had school the next day. It just wasn't proper to go on the train without your hair ribbons. (Grandma had found the errant ribbon by the next time Jan arrived.) Most weekends some of the Latta kids and Schaub cousins were there. She told me about playing monopoly with Aunt Maggie, Junior and everyone during the depression. There were no electric lines from East Sparta until about l928, and Aunt Jan remembered how she used to like cleaning the oil lamps. Grandma Schaub had a cow named Janey, so her mother Effie really did not like Janedith to be called "Janey." Although Aunt Jan has never been as crazy about cats as Krystal, Valerie, or me, she did like Grandma Schaub's orange cat, Emily. She also remembered the horse named Jimbo that bit her brother Don who was teasing him. She was there when the armistice of World War I was announced on the radio. She remembered how Elton and the older boys were celebrating by beating on the old wash tubs and creating a real noise. Everyone was so happy that Uncle Wes was coming home. Jan used to play dominoes and euchre with Grandpa Schaub while Grandma Schaub crocheted. When they were older, she remembersdriving out to their farm at 11:30 p.m. or midnight, after she had dropped off her Dad to catch the train to Chicago, to stay with them. She learned to drive at a very young age and chauffered her family a lot. She went toTrump Road School then to an all girls high school--Mount Marie which later became Central Catholic High School. Of course she had to wear uniforms in those days, and much of her class work was centered around the arts, Latin, Spanish, the classics. She loved the opera. I brought one of her oils so you can all see how talented she was. When Aunt Jan was a sophomore her friend Angeline had a cadillac and provided much of Jan's transportation and good times. Alas, the cadillac graduated, and Jan's best friend became Hilda Schneider. It was a friendship that continued throughout her life. When she was at Altercare, she often told me how thankful she was that they could talk often on the phone and still see one another now and then. She was also thankful that she was so close to David and Maxine when she came to Altercare and she enjoyed their Sunday visits. It was a blessing when Krystal got a job there and could stop in on her working days. Knowing that Vicky was always there for her too was a great comfort. She got back so much of the love that she had given away all those years. Yes, it always has been Aunt Jan who has brought this family together. We have all learned so much from her about giving, about loving, about coping. She will always be such a role model for us. She went through so many difficult times. She did not complain. She did what had to be done, then went on. I do think she was ready to go on now too. Our five-year-old granddaughter Madison has been saying the prayer at the evening meal. For the past year, it has always been the same. "Thank you God for this food. Help Aunt Janie to feel better." I think that Madi's prayer has come through. I'm sure that now she is feeling better. Her body of late was such a burden to her free spirit. I have hopes that she is rejoicing in reuniting with the family she loved so well, and we will see her again someday. And I know she'll be glad to see us, like always. She'll probably open with what so many of us have heard before, "Well, what do you know that I don't know?"