Death of Janice M. Kantor
May 28, 1948–Oct. 21, 2022
Janice Mildred Shelton was born on May 28, 1948, in her family home in West Frankfort, Illinois, to her parents Mildred and Olen Shelton. She joined a fast-growing little family and was baby number seven in a family that eventually grew to have 13 children.
Growing up in a large family meant that her siblings were her closest friends. The Sheltons were a family full of laughter, fun, togetherness and hard work. They were a family that played hard and worked hard. She loved anything related to fashion, and she was the official family stylist when it came to picking out her sister’s clothes for events and spent hours doing everyone’s hair.
Her talent for home design and color made her the official family interior designer. It wasn’t uncommon to find paint and fabric samples covering the living room floor while she helped one of her sisters design a room in their home.
Growing up in the Shelton family meant a lot of hard work to keep such a large family fed and financially afloat. Jan learned the value of hard work when, as a child, she worked on farms picking produce, cotton, tin and metal scrap with her siblings to help support her family. The Sheltons were a team when it came to working together to keep things organized and taken care of in their home.
The Shelton home was full of faith and music. Southern gospel music played with guitars, harmonica and banjos filled the home regularly and all family members sang beautifully and in full harmony. Each child knew their part—Jan was an alto. She sang all throughout her life with her siblings and continued sharing her talent of singing in church as an alto with her two friends Judy and Phyllis. She responded to music all the way to the end of her life.
Jan attended high school at Wisconsin Adventist Academy and enjoyed her high school experience immensely. She talked about her boarding school memories all her life and even when her memory failed her, she would talk often of friends and places connected to her high school years.
After high school she attended Andrews University to pursue a degree in art history with a goal to teach at the high school level. During her second year at Andrews, she walked into the church on campus where she caught the eye of John Kantor who had just graduated with his teaching degree and was headed to UCLA for his graduate degree. He took her on a date to a Chinese restaurant in Niles, Michigan, and then headed out to California to pursue his master’s degree. He arrived in California, and it wasn’t long before he couldn’t get Jan off his mind, so he loaded back up in his car and headed back to Michigan and the rest is history.
Jan married John Dec. 7, 1969, and they were off to Florida and Disney World. Jan decided to pause her education, and worked designing wigs for clients, and they built a beautiful home in Berrien Springs that hosted numerous family parties and social gatherings.
In their early years they enjoyed traveling to Hawaii and Mexico and spending time with all their family. In December of 1974 they welcomed their first child into the world, Melissa Faye. They jumped right into parenting and took turns bouncing a very colicky newborn night after night.
Soon John got an offer to teach elementary school in Grand Haven, Michigan. With the move they found an amazing community outside the strong family circle they already had.
Jan jumped right into her new community, became deeply involved in her church through her gift of music and formed a trio of ladies who blessed the church with music for many years. She loved to entertain and cook and most weekends hosted families at her home for meals after church.
She loved church potlucks and for many years was on the church social committee
In 1977, Jan and John welcomed another baby named Krista Sue. Krista was with Jan and John for only a few hours as she suffered from a rare genetic disorder and was laid to rest. She is buried in Rose Hill, the same place both Jan and John are resting waiting for the great resurrection day.
Life for Jan was busy raising Melissa and running her home. When she and John found out they were expecting a baby again they were ecstatic. Kristie Ann was born September 1979. She was a healthy and happy baby, and after losing Krista that was such a relief.
Life sped up and John decided to leave teaching and started a construction company. Jan continued to raise the girls and help John with the bookkeeping for his business.
She loved to spend time with her friends and developed an incredibly close friend named Christal. She and Christal spent time at the pool, made chocolates at the holidays and planned church parties. They traveled together with their husbands on vacations and bonded over mothering. You would likely, however, find them most commonly at a TJ Maxx then out to lunch finding the best deals on the most adorable clothes.
Jan was lucky to have many friendships with so many women in Grand Haven, and till the end of her life some of those friends continued to come and see her. Christal was with her till the very end and stayed with her daughters until they took Jan to prepare her for her final resting place.
Jan was lucky enough to have eight sisters … who was her favorite? She would never say because she loved them all dearly. She would spend hours on the phone with them laughing and talking about all the latest info in her very large family. She so loved spending time with her sisters, shopping and eating tacos and drinking Dr. Pepper, drinking hot cups and going on vacation with her sisters and sitting pool side. There were huge holiday gatherings with family that were epic with tables laden with delicious chocolates and holiday food and sledding, skating and outdoor fun at Camp Au Sable … one of the only places the entire family could gather together because 13 kids all now had families of their own.
Jan was also so loved by her husband’s family and was blessed with close relationships with her sister-in-laws Nancy, Blanche and Annie. They never stopped visiting her and Annie was with her, holding her hand, in her very final hours.
Jan loved Jesus, and she never wavered in her faith. She hosted Bible studies in her home and was passionate about how she wanted to have her heart ready for the soon return of Jesus. She was never afraid or ashamed to share her faith with others. She held onto Jesus and can now sleep and rest in that faith.
In 1992 she and John headed out to a new adventure. They were called to go to Russia so that John could be part of a construction project for the church. They headed off with their two girls and went to live in a place much different than Grand Haven, Michigan. She involved herself with the church there, stretched herself in a new culture and enjoyed going back and forth over the next 15 years with John.
She was a small business entrepreneur and sold Russian goods and flower arranging all over the country for many years. She worked hard and was successful in her little business.
She loved being a mom but was ecstatic to become a nana. She was so proud of her six grandchildren, Claire, Ethan, Seth, Gracelyn, Lucy and Levi. She would sit and watch VeggieTales movies and puzzle with the kids … She rocked colicky babies to sleep to give Melissa and Kristie a break. She cooked meals for her grandchildren, and they loved her “scrootles” dish the very best.
She lost her husband John in 2011 to cancer and moved from her farm in Waterveliet to a small house in St. Joseph. She loved her little home and enjoyed having a cozy place to call home.
When it became too difficult to stay at home alone anymore because of an aggressive form of dementia, Jan moved to Stately Living in St. Joseph. She spent the last 4.5 years of her life at Stately where she received beyond-excellent care. The staff cared for her like their own family, and her daughters Melissa and Kristie will be forever grateful for their loving care.
Jan was beautiful and maintained a sense of humor till the end. She was surrounded by close family, friends and daughters until she was resting in Jesus. Her struggle is no more and she will sleep until the trumpet sounds and Jesus wakes her up.
Janice is preceded in death by her husband John Kantor, her daughter Krista Sue Kantor, her sisters Gloria Hack, Doris Posthumus and Sue Herford, her brothers Jeffrey, Dennis and Olen Shelton and her parents Olen and Mildred Shelton.
Private family graveside services were held at Rose Hill Cemetery. To view her services, visit the Starks Family Funeral Homes website.