Lifelong grammar school teacher and social activist, passed away at Sarah House April 26. She had one last Cafe Literario gathering with music and Spanish conversation around her a few days before she passed. The night she passed, she was surrounded by the love and care of her daughters, Chandra, Athena and Teresa. In her 7-year courageous battle with cancer, she achieved 5 more joyful years of life than predicted and it is clear that she was a winner, modeling living in the moment with spirited optimism. In those 5 years, she gained many more friends, allies and life lessons, and became a stronger woman.
Moving many times throughout her childhood, Janice attended over 12 grammar schools. Forging a life from challenging circumstances, Janice put use to her love of learning, which awarded her a scholarship to UC Riverside, leading her to accomplish her lifelong goal of becoming a teacher. Passionate advocate of bilingual education for children and inspired by the success of bilingual programs in Riverside, Janice was willing to pose tough questions at school board meetings, and co-founded the Cesar Chavez Dual Immersion School in Santa Barbara. She served 32 years teaching in Santa Barbara and Riverside schools, championing the importance of child centered learning, earning the love of students and parents, and other educators.
Above her tenacity, she was happy and allowed her curiosity to carry her to all manners of fascinating things. She enjoyed each moment, whether it was playing word games, triumphing at chess games or dancing. Her delight and expertise in folk dancing began in college and she taught as well as fostered an appreciation of dance in her students by starting dance clubs on several local grammar school campuses. She also loved to swing dance and assisted Lindy Hop originator Frankie Manning demonstrating his moves at workshops when teaching locally. She attended dance camps in Sweden and nothing got her spirit soaring more than dancing.
Three surviving daughters, Teresa, Chandra and Athena, are forever instilled with a love of musicals, dance & singing, and reflect their mother’s intrepid independent thinking. The family is grateful for the care of many people in the years of her illness, and the loving community at Sarah House as she left this plain peacefully, “Defying Gravity” with the sounds of her daughters singing the spirited music from Wicked and Man of La Mancha.
Words cannot express the sorrow in this family, who lost their father, Dr. Aaron Brown, less than a year ago to his own 7-year cancer battle. In lieu of flowers, you are invited to make donations to Sarah House or the education of her daughters via A. Brown Children Educational Fund, attn. Dave Hall at Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, 20 E Carrillo St. Santa Barbara 93101. A celebration of her life will be held May 24 at 1 pm, at the Unitarian Society 1535 Santa Barbara St.