Janis Evaline Mckay, 57, passed away peacefully in her St. George, Utah home January 10, 2021 after a courageous, years-long battle with ill health.
Born June 17, 1963 in Centerville, Utah, she was placed in the loving hands of her adopted parents, Nadine (Syme) and Milton J. Ferrin and was beloved and doted upon by them both as their “little ‘dopted darling”.
Jan loved learning and was so innately bright that, after skipping a grade, graduated with high honors from Viewmont High School at the age of 16. Her high school years were precious to her and she made lifelong friends. Her musical talents included piano and guitar and she cherished her involvement in Viewmont’s highly respected “Madrigal” choir. She continued to share her love of singing throughout her life.
Jan married her sweetheart Scott Maurice Naegle in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 9, 1981. His untimely death in December 1981 left Jan with their two-month-old daughter, Mindi. A subsequent marriage gave Jan two additional daughters, Mikell and Mikenzi (Morgan).
Despite the struggle of being a single mother to three young girls, Jan’s devotion helped her create a home filled with learning and music. She instilled in her daughters an appreciation of different cultures, religions and people. She was always the “favorite mom”, the safe haven for all her daughters’ friends.
Joining her dad in his love of aviation, Jan began a career at Skywest in 1987 where she made lifelong friends. Working for the airline provided the opportunity for numerous family trips to far-off places, with her best friend or parents in tow, all while flying standby (which made it a true adventure!).
Always wanting to provide a better life and example for her daughters, she left her career to pursue her education. She received full scholarships to Dixie and Weber State colleges, receiving her BS Degree with a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Graduating summa cum laude from Weber State in 1998, she repeated that achievement when she received her Masters of Social Work from the University of Utah in 2001.
Jan excelled professionally at her emotionally difficult work, navigating her way through Child and Family Services, mental health facilities and drug and alcohol groups. However, it was her work with those who were incarcerated and mentally-ill where Jan found her true calling. Jan never saw just an “inmate”. Instead, she saw a person who desperately needed help. She had a true gift for empathy and compassion, two traits that cannot be taught. Those special traits led her to hospice care, her second calling, guiding patients and their families through end-of-life challenges.
All of this she accomplished while battling personal health issues too numerous to mention. Her declining health led to an early retirement but her work continued. Her mother’s age and declining health compelled Jan to turn her considerable skills to Nadine. Jan stoically cared for her mom during the last years of her life, putting her own health needs aside.
Her love of family, her heritage and her ancestors were sacred to her. She often spoke of her “flock of angels” who continuously watched over and comforted her.
Jan loved life! She loved all music but her utter devotion to 70s and 80s music has left behind countless personally created mix tapes which will be cherished by her family. She loved the outdoors, hiking in the red dirt of southern Utah, trying anything and everything to give her girls as many experiences as she could (including family rock climbing lessons) but above all, she loved floating at the lake with her bosom buddy and basking in the sun, eating Chili Cheese Fritos with bean dip and sipping Diet Coke.
She was an accomplished seamstress and an avid reader. . .always looking to deepen her well of knowledge with her love of books. She has loving been described as having “one of the brightest and most inquisitive minds.”
Jan loved animals, all creatures great and small. She had many beloved pets but above all, cherished her pugs, Jazzy and Frankie.
Jan had countless friends who stood by her side throughout her life. She never just heard a friend, she listened to those friends and never missed a moment to make a difference, big or small, to anyone in need. We, her daughters, thank you all for everything you’ve done for our mom over the years. She loved you all dearly and we have cherished going through her things and reading the many cards she has saved from all of you. She really did save them all. . .
We, her daughters, grew up knowing we were always the most important part of her life, her most precious ones. We, along with her boys and her grandbabies, now survive her. Mindi and Andy Foremaster, Mikell and Trent Terry and Mikenzi and Tyler McGinnis. Thanks to our mom’s devotion, we will continue a never-ending and loving bond. Magheta.
Her grandbabies – Cayson, Brooklyn, Sophia, Watson, Clara, Cash and Muggsy – will grow to learn that it is Jan’s special qualities and love which in part flows through their veins. They will learn the innumerable stories of their sweet grandmother, most of which end in sheer laughter, thanks to Jan’s kind humor and irreverent wit.
We love you most, mama. You are our favorite. Go rest on that high mountain. You will always be our sunshine.
Celebration of Life services for Jan Mckay to be held at a later date, dependent upon Covid conditions.
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