Helen Victoria Henrickson Janson

Honored by:Barbara Janson
Brick location:PAVER:3  map

Helen Janson was born March 2, 1917, at Ulen, Minnesota, to George and Carolina (Renslow) Henrickson. She was baptized and confirmed in the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Ulen and she graduated from Ulen High School in 1935. After graduation Helen worked as the school librarian.

On September 12, 1940, at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa, she married Harley A. Janson, a graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College. They lived and worked together as a team in both their personal and professional lives until her death from cancer in 1990.

For twenty-eight years, her husband Harley Janson practiced veterinary medicine and farming from their home base in Thornton, Iowa. Helen was an active participant in those activities as well as the primary caregiver for their three daughters, Barbara Jean, Kathleen Ann, and Sharon Kay Janson, who have dedicated this memorial to her memory.

Helen provided many opportunities for her daughters that would enrich their future lives. She encouraged them in their studies at school and in their religious instruction. And beyond that, she saw that they had instruction in music and dance, were active in sports, and grew to love the water and take pleasure from it as she had during her childhood in northern Minnesota. She spent time teaching them cooking and sewing. (Although she never spoke of her accomplishments, she had won a national award for her sewing skills when she was a young woman.) She passed on her curiosity and love of travel to her children, who remember fondly family trips: fishing in Minnesota, viewing Niagara Falls, seeing the King Ranch in Texas, crossing the border to visit village markets in Mexico, driving through the American West, and climbing into the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, Colorado.

Helen was a leader in the community. She went beyond providing opportunities for her own children, working to organize taking children from the Thornton area for swimming lessons and dancing classes in Clear Lake and Sheffield, Iowa. She also started Brownie and Girl Scout troops in Thornton and participated in 4-H activities.

For herself, she enjoyed gardening, singing, playing the organ, and sewing. She loved fishing and would often talk of happy times fishing with her father in northern Minnesota. She tried, unsuccessfully, to teach her daughters to cross-country ski as she had done as a child. She enjoyed sports and shared that love with her children, encouraging them to play and attending their school games. She and Harley learned to golf together, a sport which Helen came to play quite well, winning a few trophies for her efforts over the years. When their schedule lightened after Harley Janson retired from veterinary practice in 1966 the two of them also enjoyed bowling and watching spectator sports.

Helen was a source of strength to those around her in times of crises. This strength was one of her most important gifts to her family, an example for her daughters. She herself struggled with ill health which had a profound effect on her life. In spite of that handicap, Helen was there to help other family members when the need arose.

Early in their marriage, following a severe, life-threatening automobile accident suffered by her husband, Helen calmed him when medications had no effect. She cared for him and began plans to become the breadwinner for their young family. But instead, as she encouraged him through those difficult times, drove for him and helped him recover his memory, Harley was able to continue his work as a veterinarian.

All three of Helen's daughters attended Iowa State:

The eldest, Barbara Janson (formerly Shallenberger), graduated from Iowa State with a B.S. in mathematics in 1965. After earning an M.S. in mathematics from Trinity College and an M.B.A. from the University of Rhode Island, she founded a school mathematics publishing company, Janson Publications Inc. Barbara is the mother of Mona and Ann.

The second daughter, Kathleen Janson Quinlan, attended Iowa State and graduated from the State College of Iowa at Cedar Falls in 1964, with a B.A. in business education. She, like her mother before her, works as part of a successful team farming with her husband David.

The youngest daughter, Sharon Janson Gomez, attended Iowa State, graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1969 with a B.A. in mathematics. She also earned an M.B.A. from the University of Puget Sound. After a successful career in business, she became the mother of three children, Remy, Victoria, and Carry, and is currently teaching school in Tacoma, Washington.

Helen and her family were members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Thornton, Iowa. She and Harley joined Zion Lutheran Church when they moved to Clear Lake, Iowa in 1974. Her death from cancer came suddenly, November 17, 1990, at 73 years of age. Helen lives on in the memory of her husband, Harley, daughters Barbara, Kathleen, and Sharon, and her grandchildren.

This memorial to Helen Janson is given in loving memory by her daughters, as we pursue our own dreams and those she had for us. We think of her often with thankfulness for the love, encouragement, and support she gave us in her lifetime, all of which live on in Harley, in the three of us, and in her grandchildren. 


Paver Inscription:

"Helen Victoria