Thursday, December 14, 2017

Janet Ellen Fox

Janet Ellen Fox

Janet Ellen Fox was born to Blaine and Ellen Bloomgren on Aug. 25, 1951 in Kalispell, Mont. On March 30, 2017, she passed away peacefully in her sleep due to a stroke after an extended hospitalization. 
 
Janet was raised in Libby, Mont. Old photographs of Janet hint at her spirit and charisma, which her parents confirm to this day. Between her and her little sister, Christina, if there was heck to be raised, they did their best to raise it. 
 
Janet learned to play the piano and sing at a young age. These musical talents would provide a foundation for her professional life. Janet graduated from Libby High School in 1969 and attended Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind.
 
In 1973, Janet welcomed daughter Nora into the world. Daughter Susan followed in 1975. These three young ladies made a formidable impression on a young man named Dennis Fox. Dennis and Janet married in Missoula on Feb 3, 1978. Son Patrick was born on Christmas Day, 1979. Dennis later adopted Susan and Nora as his own children.
 
In 1980, Janet resumed her collegiate studies. After several years of commuting between Hardin and Billings, Janet earned her bachelor’s degree in education with honors from Eastern Montana College. To celebrate her graduation, Janet entered and won the 1983 Big Horn County Powder Puff Demolition Derby.
 
Janet started her teaching career in 1983 at Crow Agency Elementary School. It was at Crow School that she developed her love for her Apsaalooke students and their families and culture. In 1987, Janet took the position of choir director at Hardin High School and Hardin Middle School. For 20 years, Janet taught Hardin’s choir students and mentored many aspiring singers and musicians. From 2006-08 she was President of Montana Choral Directors Association. Janet mastered not only her God-given voice of mezzo-soprano, but she also sang alto, tenor and even bass. Janet could sight-read piano and sight-sing anything and everything. Between various concerts and festivals, Janet dedicated many hours on- and off-the-clock to her students and her craft. 
 
In 2007, Janet “retired” from choir direction and began teaching music to the young kids at the Hardin primary and intermediate schools. She loved the children and their joy for life and music. She often commented that they energized her day. In 2015, Janet retired from teaching after 32 years. At the time of her retirement, she had amassed enough post-graduate credit hours for two master’s degrees, but to her, knowledge was more important than the credentials.
 
Janet was a member of First Congregational Church in Hardin and directed the church choir for many years. Janet was a founding member of “Montana Melodies,” an a capella singing group that sang in Hardin and throughout Montana. 
 
Janet’s first priority was always her children. She and Dennis raised their kids to be independent, reliable, productive, hard-working and fun-loving. Janet doted over them, but never spoiled them. She had high expectations for decorum, manners, and conscientiousness.  She was very proud her family. 
 
Like her mother and mother-in-law (and her daughters and daughter-in-law), Janet was a member of the PEO Sisterhood. Janet was a member and Past President of Chapter L in Hardin. PEO is an organization that raises money and provides college scholarships for young women.
 
Janet had many hobbies. She loved working in her garden, nurturing a habitat for all sorts of plants and the many different birds that called her backyard home. A spring and summer morning wasn’t complete without a cup of coffee and a tour through the yard to weed, deadhead, and generally fuss over her many plants. A well-worn avian field guide was her constant companion – she didn’t need a field guide for flowers because she knew them all by heart. 
 
Janet never met a piece of furniture that didn’t need to be refinished or wallpaper that didn’t need to be torn off and replaced (with more wallpaper!). She was intrepid and would take on any project around the house without a second thought. Apparently, the only job she didn’t like was painting the ceiling. To ensure Dennis’ assistance, she once rolled a swath of new paint on the ceiling, leaving Dennis no choice but to promptly finish the job. 
 
Janet travelled the world with Dennis. In 2001, she was one of the original staff members for Northern Ambassadors of Music, a bi-annual music tour of Europe for students from Montana and North Dakota. This summer would have been her ninth tour. Dennis travelled with the group as well. Also, Janet and Dennis visited all seven Modern Wonders of the World and the remaining Ancient Wonder of the World, The Great Pyramid of Egypt. Together, they visited five of the seven continents. 
 
After retirement, Janet spent her free time chasing her grandkids around Montana, Washington and California. She was an avid bridge player and loved her various bridge groups in Hardin. While Janet’s life ended long before it should have, she lived life to the fullest. 
 
In this age of social media, many of Janet’s former students and colleagues have expressed their condolences, calling Janet an earthly angel, the kindest person, a fantastic teacher, a loving “mother of many,” etc. We are so grateful for this outpouring and this external confirmation of what we knew of Janet.
 
Janet was preceded in death by her son-in-law Mark Menke. She is survived by her husband Dennis; parents Blaine and Ellen Bloomgren; sister Christina McElmurry (Rich); daughter Nora Menke; daughter Susan Schafer (Derek); son Patrick Fox (Holly); grandchildren Devin and Linnea Schafer; Ellen and Lilian Menke; Charles, James and Maren Fox; and brothers-in-law Richard Fox, Michael Fox, Steve Fox, Tim Fox, Paul Karas and Sam Shiromani.
 
Friends and family will celebrate Janet’s life on Aug. 19, 2017 at 1 p.m. at the Hardin Middle School Auditorium. Private interment will be at Fairview Cemetery prior to the memorial service.
 
Memorials are suggested to the Big Horn Country Historical Museum, 1163 3rd St. E, Hardin, MT 59034 or Chapter L PEO Janet Fox Memorial, c/o Rhonda Johnson, 632 W. 5th St., Hardin, MT 59034.
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