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Janice Linsell

March 7, 1925 - June 26, 2020
Traverse City, MI

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Life Story / Obituary


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Janice Armstrong Primrose Linsell, 95, died on June 26 at Boardman Lake Glens in Traverse City. Janice was born at Harper Hospital in Detroit on March 7, 1925 where her mom, Frances, worked as a registered nurse. She was raised by her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, having lost her father to tuberculosis when she was three months old. Janice grew up in Detroit attending Northern High School and Metropolitan Methodist Church. She fondly remembered being able to see the golden tower of the Fisher Building at night from her second floor bedroom on Melbourne Avenue.

Janice graduated from Albion College in 1947 with a degree in elementary education. Riding the DSR bus to her first teaching job, she got reacquainted with a family friend, Frederick Linsell. Their courtship had begun. She worked two summers, 1948-49, in Bay View, Michigan where she ran the “Rec. Club,” working with teenagers. Fred followed her to Bay View both summers beginning their lifelong connection to many close friends who summered there.

Janice and Fred were married in 1950 at Central Methodist Church in Detroit and were active members until they moved to Traverse City and, without missing a beat, became members at another Central Methodist Church. She loved the hymns. At both churches she made many lifelong friends.

Janice began her teaching career in Detroit. She taught kindergarten her entire profession. Five year olds were her favorite. She was a piano-playing, children’s lit., creative-play kind of teacher who knew all her students’ names at the end of the first day of school. And if you weren’t sure she was gently in charge, you weren’t paying attention.

She worked for universal childhood immunization and was a union leader in each of her schools. After 29 years teaching in Detroit with ten years off to raise her sons, Jim and David, she and Fred, retired and moved to Traverse City where Janice substitute taught primary grades for twenty more years - finally retiring at age 80, but only because she didn’t like the 5 a.m. phone call to tell her the assignment of the day.

Janice was a passionate gardener in Detroit and Traverse City. More than once in her teaching career she’d use the greenhouse at her school to start from seed enough marigolds for each child in the school to grow a Mother’s Day plant. The TV news loved filming those 350 kids walking out of the school with their flowers. Her dinner conversation during her working years was filled with anecdotes about her students often with each voice being acted out by her with frequent hilarity. Even at Boardman Lake Glens, she gardened for ten years with standup planters outside and orchids and violets inside. June was her favorite month of the year.

Her retirement coincided with the start of long and close relationships with her grandchildren, Chris, Jeff, and Daniel Linsell of Traverse City and Forrest Marie Peters Linsell of Chicago, all of whom she doted on till the very end. She loved them dearly.

Janice was an advocate for peace and racial equality starting in her early adult years. She hung a United Nations flag in her classroom and led her students each day in the world pledge. She and Fred were longtime members of the Democratic Party. They traveled to Washington for peace marches. They held campaign events in their homes. The yard frequently had a political sign on it. She always had a child in another country to whom she sent money. She left the world a better place. The gift of her life has been fulfilled.

Janice is survived by her son, Jim and his wife, Mary Ann, her daughter-in-law, Christine Peters of Morton Grove, IL, her grandchildren, Chris, Jeff, Dan, and Forrest Marie, granddaughters-in-law, Kelly Yauk and Dessa Zuccaro Linsell, five great-grandchildren, Penny, Josie, Luke, and new twins Taylor and Jack, and a number of beloved nieces and nephews and their families. Fred and son, David, predeceased her in 2014 and 2018. She deeply loved them all.

Janice’s and Fred’s ashes will be spread in a service in the Memorial Garden at Bay View at a later date. Given public health guidelines, no public service is scheduled at this time.

The family would like to commend the staff at Boardman Lake Glens for their loving care, Rev. Chris Lane from Central United Methodist for his personal guidance and support, and Hospice of Michigan and Life Story Funeral Home for their professional and personal service. Memorial contributions may be made to UNICEF at https://www.unicef.org/ or The Botanic Garden at Barns Park in Traverse City at https://thebotanicgarden.org/

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