Janet Louise “Nana” (Herrbach) Pizarek, 93, of rural Wamego, Kansas, formerly of rural LaPorte, Indiana, went to Heaven on the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola on Sunday, July 31, 2022 at home with the comfort of her family.
Janet was born in Michigan City, Indiana joining 3 older brothers and 1 older sister. She attended One-Room Eddyville Schoolhouse having a Miss Sullivan as the teacher, then Coolspring Township Grade School when it was built, graduating from Elston Senior High School in 1947. Throughout her childhood and in school, she was referred to as “Jeanette”, but when she requested her birth certificate prior to her marriage, she discovered that her name had been misspelled on her birth certificate, so her legal name was actually “Janet”. From then on she took the name, Janet, with only a few schoolmates referring to her as “Jeanette”.Even though she was raised in St John’s United Church of Christ, she was always drawn to Catholic religious beliefs, mostly through a very close relationship with a special Aunt Mary and Uncle Frank, whom she visited and stayed with often during vacations in Chicago, where they lived. They were Catholic and took her to Mass with them, so at 18, she “took instructions” and joined the Catholic Church, living her life as a devoted Catholic convert. She was a strong-willed woman devoted to her beliefs, who was more interested in being outside doing yard and farm work, and enjoying nature, rather than reading or doing housework.
Being born of immigrants from France and Germany, Janet was raised in a strict household where her parents sometimes talked in their native tongues of French and German, yet Janet only spoke English. Unfortunately, she was never able to know any grandparents, since they had all died in Europe prior to her birth. It’s interesting to note that her parents met when they were in the wedding party for her Dad’s brother marrying her Mom’s sister, and Janet’s husband’s parents met when they were in the wedding party at the marriage of their siblings, too.
As a young girl Janet was atom-boy, enjoying actively helping her Dad on the family farm in the fields, gardens, and with livestock, since she was decades younger than her siblings, who were 22, 20, 12, and 9. Being born in the year of the “Great Depression”, she grew up in simpler times, spending much time in her childhood at the “Log Cabin Restaurant” that her family built and managed to earn money during a time when jobs were scarce. She talked fondly about the activities there and in the adjoining dance hall. Since Highway 20 had recently gone thru their property, her older adult brothers built the “Nu-20 Garage” where she enjoyed hanging out, as well. She laughed often about the stories she recalled about the “cops” who were there often getting work done on their vehicles, and how they would swoop her up onto their motorcycles whisking her away on a fun ride. Yes, those were very different times. She loved working with and riding horses, even after she had disobeyed by riding a workhorse when she was 11 and getting drug through a barbed wire fence, almost losing her arm, requiring 200+ stitches. She got loose and dragged her mangled self to the “Nu-20” where an officer immediately threw her in a squad car, rushing her to the hospital! Her arm was only saved, because a new energetic Doctor Gardner was on the case. She had a very close relationship with her Dad, being devastated by his unexpected death when she was only 16. After hauling a load of manure, he had reclined in a chair, asking her to do the chores because he couldn’t, and while she was in the barn he had a heart attack.
When Jacob Pizarek was discharged from the Army in 1946, he drove a school bus on which there was a Senior girl with whom he had an interest. Janet was someone whom he had known since her birth, since their fathers were really good friends. One day when he was about 10 and she was about 4, his Dad said, “Go over there and sit on that log next to her, as you might marry her someday.” On April 24, 1948 Janet married Jacob Clement Pizarek at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Michigan City, Indiana. Janet had recently converted and received her other Sacraments there - Penance, 1st Holy Communion, and Confirmation. The couple’s 2 children attended 12 years of Catholic education there. In later years they joined Queen of All Saints Catholic Parish in Michigan City.
Janet was a member of Coolspring Township Farm Bureau, both St. Mary’s and QAS Rosary Sodality, and had served as a Leader for several years of the Coolspring Champs 4-H Club. She enjoyed the LaPorte County Fair, watching her daughter, Cherie, showing Beef, Sheep, dogs, Chickens, and Rabbits, plus she always offered helpful ideas of creativity for Cherie to develop in her other projects such as Foods, Arts/Crafts, Photography, Conservation posters, and Flowers. She loved gardening and growing beautiful flowers, especially many varieties of daylilies and iris. “Nana” enjoyed playing pinochle and solitaire. She loved all kinds of animals, especially always having at least one dog until later years, with Dobermans as her favorite or Rottweilers, and she even had a dog that was part Wolf, thus she collected wolf items, as people gave them to her as gifts. When her oldest grandson, Cory, was little, she got a unique pet for him – “Candy Goat”. After Cherie was out of 4-H and moved away, “Nana” and “Papa” continued raising her Hereford heifer, plus a few other cows, and fattened calves. Cats were always outdoor pets, until the last 15-20 years when she switched her allegiance from dogs to cats, captured some wild feral cats in humane living traps, and invited them to live in the house with her. The only remaining one, “Tipper” laid on her bed keeping vigil with “Nana” as she took her last breaths here on Earth.
After high school graduation, Janet worked as counter help and secretarial duties at a Goodyear Tire Store. During their early married life, Jacob with Janet and their young son “Tommy”, traveled the country taking jobs mostly on Dairy Farms in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and then back in Indiana. When “Papa” was asked recently why he married “Nana” he replied, “I never found another woman who could outwork her – right alongside of me – she could work like any man!” Janet was always willing to help get the job done. She was never afraid to throw hay bales, plus she worked for decades picking apples; trimming, tying, and picking grapes; and waiting on customers in her sister’s fruit and vegetable farm market.
Janet, along with Jacob, had a very special relationship with their grandchildren. Cory had spent much of his early childhood at their house while Cherie was teaching and taking additional college classes, so he loved rides on the tractor, and lawn mower, and helping with all sorts of yard chores. Even though most of their grandchildren grew up in Kansas, she looked forward to their visits and they loved learning many life and farm skills from “Nana” and “Papa”. Having Gemma living only 4 miles away, gave her much satisfaction being able to interact with her much more often. Seeing and spending time with her great-grandsons recently, always put a twinkle in her eyes.
Janet is survived by her daughterCherie Pizarek (Tom) Trieb – Wamego, KS;daughter-in-law Sue Pizarek – LaPorte, IN; grandchildren: Gemma Pizarek – LaPorte, IN, Cory Garmon – Manhattan, KS, Bernadette Trieb – Wamego, KS, Annette Trieb –El Dorado, KS, William (Anne) Trieb + great-grand-sons John & Peter – Lincoln, NE; nephews Bill (JoAnn) Herrbach IN, Lee (Debi) Herrbach IL, Marc Pizarek IN/SC, Matt (Denise) Bankowski FL/TN, Michael (LouAnn) Bankowski TN, nieces Kathy (Dick) Zigler IN, Barbara Miller CA, Linda Walker OH, Anne (Jim) Cadwell IN, Cindy (Phil) Sliwa OH, Pam Pizarek IN; grand-nephews/nieces + their families = Dawn Zigler (Dave) Cramer, Joy Zigler, Kris (Gayle) Herrbach, Aimee Herrbach, Jill Herrbach, Miles Herrbach, Landon Herrbach, Kristin (John) Scialabba, Heather (Andy) Evans, Eric Herrbach, Clayton (Erica) Herrbach, Toni Herrbach, Todd (Beki) Herrbach, Trisha (Jason) Jones, Wynne (Jen) Herrbach, Sam (Gina) Herrbach, Sarabeth (David) Scott, Matthew Pauley, Diana (Joshua) Hoskins, Pete (Kathy) Pizarek, Amy (Andrew) Crane, Carin Cadwell, Craig (Deanna) Cadwell, Charlie Cadwell, AlisonLadson, Greg (Eda) Pizarek, Kris (Brenna Ruth) Pizarek, PJ (Wanda) Sliwa, Heather (Jorge) Anaya, Tom Bankowski, Katie (Tony) Stahoviak; plus numerous great-grand- and great-great-grand-nephews/nieces.
Janet was preceded in death by her grandparents, Joseph (MaryAnn Zimmerman) Herrbach&Christian (Anna Leitenburger) Dietz; her parents, Theodore(Anna Dietz) Herrbach; siblings Frank (Frieda) Herrbach, Walter (Alma) Herrbach, Elmer (Helen) Herrbach, Marian (Ralph & William)Miller; son Thomas T Pizarek; nephews Alan Herrbach, Gene Herrbach, Ted Herrbach, Ralph Herrbach, Jim Miller,James W Pizarek; nieces Carol Butts, Wanda (Bud) Badkey, Sandy Pauley; nephew-in-law Doug Walker; niece-in-law Kim Pizarek;grand-nephew Michael Butts; grand-niece Coleen Cadwell, 12 Aunts/Uncles + their spouses, and only about 12 cousins that she knew.
Janet led a long life, gardening and puttering around on her John Deere lawn tractor until less than 2 years ago. She loved to mow the grass. Due to declining health,she and Jacob moved to Wamego, Kansas to be cared for by their son-in-law and daughter in November 2020. “Nana” was happy to reconnect with grandson Cory and be able to see her Kansas-raised grandchildren more frequently. A special thank you to Father Ryan McCandless, and Father Gale Hammerschmidt for visiting with her at home and giving her comfort recently with Last Rights.
The family hopes that anyone who can will join us at her 11:00 AM Catholic Funeral Mass at Queen of All Saints Parish in Michigan City, Indiana with burial in Greenwood Cemetery, on Friday, August 19, 2022 with visitation in the back adjoining Legacy Center at 9:30 AM. Memorial contributions can be made in her name to:
St Isidore’s Catholic Student Center, 711 Denison Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502 Attention: Father Gale
Local arrangements are under the direction of Haverstock Funeral Home 602 Maple Ave. La Porte, IN 46350