Janet Hartman Larson
Passed away on 22 October 2021 at her daughter Jane Larson’s home in Berkeley. She was 96.
Janet was born in Pittsburgh, the daughter of the formidable Janet Patterson Hartman, a single mother, career woman and boarding house keeper. Her older beloved sister, Virginia (Aunt Gigi to her nieces) served in the WAVES during World War II. Janet graduated with a degree in Home Economics at Carnegie Mellon in 1947. With a friend, she headed straight to New York City where they made their way to the large retail stores that made NYC famous. She eventually became a buyer like her mother. She met Glenn F Larson in 1953 through a mutual friend who knew they both liked martinis. They married a year later.
The young city couple set out to upstate New York, where they bought a Toro equipment franchise and a pre-revolutionary war farmhouse on 200 acres. As Janet said, “I knew I wanted the farm as soon as we saw it.” They had two daughters, Ann and Jane, and many chickens, goats, dogs. Janet cultivated an enormous organic garden. She often described this time as one of the best of her life. It was here Janet led her first Girl Scout troop. Ever adventurous, Janet and Glenn moved to Santa Barbara in 1965, settling into a house on Arbolado Road and making lifelong friends.
Janet was an active community member during her 35 years in Santa Barbara. As a Girl Scout leader, she gave scores of girls opportunities to backpack in the Santa Barbara backcountry and Sierra (“I thought it would be fun”, she recalled) and travel to Europe and Mexico. Later she was a docent for the Santa Barbara Art Museum, volunteered at the Botanical Gardens and several primary schools, and started a successful cottage industry. In her 60s and 70s she travelled extensively with her sister, usually through the Elder Hostel/Roads Scholar program, and in her 80s and 90s she took several “last trips” with Jane and family.
She moved with Glenn to the Rossmoor community in Walnut Creek to be closer to Jane and their grandson in 2000. Once again, she made good friends and gave to the community through the Democratic Club and several other organisations. Glenn and Virginia died in 2010. Janet lived on her own, full of interest in others, politics and gardening through the COVID-19 pandemic, only moving to an assisted living facility in mid 2021. Her last months were no different from how she lived her life, as an innately good person who was always pleasant and more interested in others than herself. She is survived by her daughters and grandson who happily adopted her cat, Gigi.
She will be remembered as a generous, kind, woman who made a difference in people’s lives and never shirked from hard work. As she wrote in her diary when she was 90, she aimed to “do something for someone every day.”