Janet (Giles) Richardson passed away unexpectedly Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, of a ruptured brain aneurysm. Janet’s end was quiet and peaceful, as was the life she led.
Janet was born Oct. 31, 1951, to Kenneth and Virginia Giles in Cottonwood. Along with her birth came a twin sister, Judi, and the only one not surprised was their mother.
Janet’s early school years were spent in Nezperce before moving to Craigmont in the fourth grade. She graduated from Highland High School in 1970. Janet went to Lewis-Clark State College for two years. She then transferred to the University of Idaho and graduated in 1974 in elementary education. Janet met her “lifetime sweetheart,” Jerry Richardson, the very first semester at college, and when you know, you know. They were seldom seen apart since their marriage Aug. 17, 1974.
After their wedding, they spent their first year teaching in Nampa. In 1975, openings became available in the Prairie School District. Janet and Jerry jumped at the opportunity to become a part of the school and the Cottonwood community. While at Prairie, she taught first through fourth grades. Janet painted her classrooms, purchased school supplies for students and handmade many decorations for school concerts. Teaching was her passion; she dedicated her life to it and could often be heard talking about the students in her classroom as “her” kids. At recess, she could be found playing four square, tether ball, kick ball or swinging with the kids, making sure nobody was left out on the playground. In the winter, she would purchase plastic sleds and often rode along with kids down the sledding hill. In 2013, Janet and Jerry made the decision to retire after 38 years of teaching. Nothing warmed her heart more than former students coming up to talk to her, even many years after they had been in her classroom. In September 1989, Janet and Jerry became the proud parents to their daughter, Alex. And so now Janet had her very own little girl and “sidekick.”
Janet led a very quiet and unassuming life. She wasn’t a real joiner, but rather led her life by example. While she touched many lives through teaching, Janet’s first passion was her entire family. Family was at the forefront of everything she did, and Janet’s fingerprints will remain on her family and friends forever.
Janet and Jerry have built their four homes in Cottonwood. She never shied away from hard work and would help with each home in any way that she could. Janet painted those homes inside and out, helped roof them, stained and finished cabinets and hung wallpaper, often burning the midnight oil to finish the job. Janet said she thought they had one more house in them, but Jerry wisely said “no.” They have painted more houses in and around the Cottonwood area than can be counted. In fact, she may have left this earth with a paintbrush in her hand. As talented as Janet was working on the outside of houses, she had a real natural flair for interior decorating. Their homes were beautiful and ever-changing, especially at Christmastime.
While not an athlete herself, a bigger sports fan you would not find. She loved her Idaho Vandals and Seattle Seahawks, but her true love was the Prairie Pirates. She and Jerry attended home games, quite a few away games and almost all of the state championships that the Prairie teams made it to over the years. She always kept a positive attitude and would cheer her teams along, no matter the score or the outcome of the game. Janet knew each Pirates’ uniform number and what year she taught them, and was so proud of each of them. She also loved country music and going to concerts all over the Northwest, never leaving before the last song was over. Recently she especially loved taking Sunday, or sometimes daily, drives with Jerry looking for deer and elk out in the country and along the rivers.
Janet was preceded in death by her parents, Ken and Virginia, and her big brothers, Dennis and Bill. She is survived by her husband, Jerry, her daughter, Alex, and her fiance, Brett Miller, all of Cottonwood, her older twin sisters, Beverley Harding, of Nezperce, and Barbara Vaughn, of Lewiston, and her twin, Judi Sattler, of Lewiston. Janet had many loving nieces and nephews, cousins and brother- and sisters-in-law and more friends than she could ever imagine.
In Janet’s ever-quiet, private way, it was her request to not have a funeral. There will be a family graveside service at a later date.
The family would like to thank the staff at St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Joseph Regional Medical Center for their wonderful compassionate care of Janet. Any memorials in Janet’s honor may be made to the Prairie School District or Prairie Booster Club.