Obituary of Janet C. Horan
Janet Kee Horan: Mother, grand-mother, wife, educator, elementary school principal, student of expressive cooking, deep water sailor, crossword enthusiast and noble, forgiving person,
passed away in hospital on December 2, 2022 after a 6 month struggle against a vigorous pancreatic cancer. She died in the loving company of her husband, John Horan, daughter, Laura and son-in-law Gary Rhodenbaugh Jr. Less than ten years before her passing she retired from the Lumberton School District in New Jersey as a K-2 school principal where she was noted for being infinitely patient, remarkably understanding and poised among community leaders, school children and their parents. She approached a career in education after her graduation from Dyersburg High School in Dyersburg Tennessee where she was born and was raised along with two sisters, Jo Kee and Lyla Odom by Thomas and Bobbie Kee. Graduating from the University of Tennessee at Martin with her degree in elementary education she followed her husband, George Coulter, who served in the Air Force, to Arizona and taught elementary grades to english and non-english speaking K-8 children. The rural setting required the school’s maintenance man walk the playground and around the building removing rattlesnakes and scorpions before the children arrived for class. When her husband was dispatched to the Far East she remained in the states with her six-month old daughter Laura who was too young to receive vaccinations for travel to Thailand. Again she entered teaching but as a substitute for a teacher who developed a long term illness. Another military transfer brought the family back to her husband’s hometown of Mount Holly New Jersey.
She saw the opportunity to test the resources of a larger school district when she interviewed for the counselor position in the Lumberton school district. Her honest commitment to the importance of children, their education and the diversity she would bring from rural and under-supported school districts offered the promise of a counselor who could step into the job running.
Proximity to universities like Rider with their advanced, educator courses opened possibilities to deepen her education and seek positions that could bring her ideas forward. Several years in pursuit of a masters’ degree and administrative certificate assured her mentors and supervisors that she could do more in a variety of district roles. As the community expanded with a new school building being erected Janet was selected as it’s first principal. She remained as principal until she retired.
While attending Rider she met her second husband, John Horan, whose family was long settled in the adjacent borough of Medford Lakes. Over a decade they planned to finish their careers and retire to Southeast Pennsylvania where her daughter, her husband and two of Janet’s young grand-children, Bryce and Chloe (who affectionately referred to her as Mom-Mom Pippie) resided.
The move opened to them a world of travel, dining at favorite restaurants, local charitable work and pursuing a passion both of them enjoyed, sailing their cruising sloop “Bay Leaf” on the Barnegat Bay. Janet passed her New Jersey sailing license in one try with a perfect score showing that she was not going to settle for doing something in less than her best efforts. In one grant application Janet secured for her school district she was required to join two other local principals at a leadership seminar that included active crew participation to sail a tall ship along the rocky coast of Maine. “Morning Time,” as Janet and John like to call their routines surrounding breakfast, involved John tearing out the Philadelphia Inquirer crossword page, folding it for Janet’s convenience and sharing news shorts and obituary highlight while Janet completed the puzzle before her coffee got cold. Before her passing Janet enrolled with her husband and their Siberian husky in a certification course which would introduce their dog “Star” into classrooms to help settle children into relaxed reading moods.
Janet is also survived by Claire Odom Hartfield, Claire’s husband Matt, their children James and Audrey and Janet’s step-son, Andrew John Horan.
Visitation with friends and family will be on Thursday evening, December 8, 2022 from 6-7:30 PM at the R. Strunk Funeral Home, 400 Main Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460 and Friday morning December 9, prior to the Memorial Mass from 9:30 - 11 at St. Basils the Great Parish, 2330 Kimberton Road, Phoenixville, PA 19460. The Mass will begin at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to St. Mary's Francican Shelter: 209 Emmett Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460 or https://stmarysfs.org/donate/ to donate online. All arrangements are being handled by the R. Strunk Funeral Home.