Janet A. Hoelzel Mark, 64, of Englewood, FL, beloved mother, sister, aunt, and friend, died Friday, September 16, 2011, in Mystic, CT, from glioblastoma. Born in New Haven July 7, 1947, she was a daughter of the late Jerry and Peggy Goldschmidt Hoelzel, then of West Haven.

For 36 years, Mrs. Mark taught kindergarten in Milford Public Schools. She filled her K-1 classroom with music, learning, and fun. She also encouraged students to venture outside the classroom by creating the Ecology Club, designing and planting the school garden, and helping write grants to fund the pond restoration. She said that every lesson was better taught by a song and that every heart was stronger for singing. Above all else she believed, “Your best is good enough for me.”

A longtime resident of Killingworth, CT and a retiree to Englewood, FL, Mrs. Mark was an avid gardener, stone wall restorer, adventurer, poet, and athlete. She loved to swim, hike, bike, play basketball and tennis, and sing karaoke. She also taught 17 summers at the Platt Nature Center in Killingworth, CT.

She considered herself lucky to have extraordinary family, friends, and students. She is survived by her daughter, Shannon Mark of Westerly, RI; her son, Kevin Mark of New Haven, CT; her former husband, Ewan Mark, of Killingly, CT; four siblings, Jean Schurr of Florida, Richard Hoelzel of Georgia, Margaret Ramos of New Hampshire, and Marion Hoelzel of New York; her aunt, Hildegarde Hinterberger of North Haven, CT; life-long best friend, Glenna (Smullen) Keenan of Guilford, CT; and several cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Friends may call at the Keenan Funeral Home, 330 Notch Hill Road (Rte. 22 So. at Rte. 80), North Branford, Saturday, October 1, 2011, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. In honor of her love of the outdoors, memorial donations can be made to your local nature preserve or land trust.
Please use this space to share a memory of Janet Mark.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Please use this space to share a memory of Janet Mark.

My mom did everything. She was amazing. It all seemed to come easily and she always had more energy than even her kindergartners. It was only a few months ago that she confessed: "I haven't been tired in thirty-one years, but I'm tired now." Apparently, I was the only other thing to make her tired.

Where ever she was, at home or at school, she always made something happen -- playing softball, gardening, leading us on a hike, driving down some road just to see where it went, bargain hunting, frog hunting -- it didn't really matter what "it" was, because "it" was always an adventure.

I hope you were able to share in at least one of her adventures.
-Shannon

20 comments:

  1. Yes. Everything she did was an adventure. Even hearing her tell the story was an adventure and her way of telling it always made you feel you were along for the ride. How rare to know someone of such generosity and selflessness. We are all poorer for her passing but richer for having known her. Wherever you are Jan, may it be free of pain, and filled with gardens, mountains, oceans, and well behaved kindergarteners.

    -Bruce R.

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  2. My heart goes out to you and your family...Both of my daughters were blessed to have Mrs. Mark as their kindergarten teacher. Simply put...She was AWESOME. All the kids loved her as well as the parents. I was able to help out in her class room and see first hand her interactions with the children. she would usually be on the floor singing a song(that was really a learning lesson)
    and she would inevitablely have a passel of kids on her lap. She was a beautiful person and an incredible teacher my family was blessed to have known her. She will be missed.
    MariaElena Kelly

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  3. I count myself lucky that Jan was my big sister.
    Some of my fondest memories are of the "Girls Only" trips Jan, Mom, Marion and I took during school vacations during the '70s. With Jan at the wheel of her beloved Peugeot we'd head south toward the spring weather that had yet to arrive in New England. We'd spend our days exploring historic sites, hiking, camping and singing along to her limited 8-track music selection. She made every day an adventure. To borrow a line from Bob Hope, "Thanks for the memories, Jan!"

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  4. What a beautiful soul she was!!! As my son Matt's kindergarten teacher, i was blessed as was he. I remember her jammin on her guitar as the kids looked up to her as thought she were "all that", and she was! She touched so many hearts and treated everyone with kindness and love. Prayers for peace and strength as you (family and friends) endure this tremendous loss. Sherri Knapp

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  5. We were first shocked and then terribly saddened to learn that our neighbor and friend for over twenty years was gone. It is hard to understand how someone so full of life and so caring of others as Jan was could be taken away much too soon. Shannon, Kevin, and Ewan, we are thinking of you with love and praying that your mom's example gives you the stength you need to cope with this loss. The beautiful stone walls that she built around your former home will be a continual reminder to us of her love of the outside and foremost a reminder of the beautiful and loving home she created for her family. Kathy, Tom, Justin and Tara

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  6. The Mark's home in Killingworth,nCT was a second home to my brother and I. Being military brat's, and always on the move, visiting Janet's house just felt right to Dan and I. The family reunion's were always great. With Janet running around cooking, baking, greeting...she just made it look easy and looked to be having fun doing it. Her visits with Kevin and Shannon on MLK day long weekends were always calendar events. Christmas and birthdays, always brought beautiful and thoughtful handmade cards. I've been all around the world and have experienced a lot in my 30 years, but nothing will ever be able to explain why these things happen to great people like Janet. Sending love to my whole family!
    Chris

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  7. The following is a poem by Linda Ellis © 1998. Consider the implications for your own life's choices

    I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend
    He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning to the end.
    He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears,
    But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

    For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth...
    And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

    For it matters not, how much we own; the cars .... the house... the cash.
    What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

    So think about this long and hard ... are there things you'd like to change?
    For you never know how much time is left. (You could be at "dash mid-range")

    If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real,
    And always try to understand the way other people feel.

    And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more,
    And love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.

    If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile...
    Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

    So, when your eulogy's being read with your life's actions to rehash...
    Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spend your dash??

    To say her "dash" was very fun filled and gratifying is an understatement. Getting to know Jan in such a short time and being accepted very quickly by her was very satisfying for me. She made my son and I feel "At home". She always took the time to explain whatever the topic, in great detail and with her added sound effects and great flair to make the story that much more enjoyable. Her reminiscing of Grade K children's stories, and fun moments brought us joy in her last few months. I am very happy to say that I knew Janet and was allowed to spend a good portion of the last year of her life with her. God bless, we are always thinking of you. Your smile and energy will always be with us even though you are not here with us.

    Carl Sposato

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  8. We are shocked and saddened of Mrs. Mark's passing. I met her after my wife passed away, at the time she was evaluating our son to determine if he should advance to kindergarten,as his nursery school felt he was not ready. Mrs. Mark concluded that he was ready. When I visited the class room I saw how she encouraged the kids to learn through music, games, art and love. I especially remember the Halloween and Thanksgiving Parades and her costumes. Over the years there at Live Oaks we became friends and she always kept an eye on my son. Mrs. Mark was an awesome teacher and a wonderful person. Our condolences to her family. God blessed us with her presence, we will say a prayer in her honor.

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  9. I am a former student of Mrs. Mark, and I am deeply saddened by her loss. Although it has been many, many years since I have last seen her, the vision I hold of Mrs. Mark is still vivid and bright. I remember her always filling our kindergarten class room with music, arts and crafts, fun, and most importantly -- life lessons. Mrs. Mark was so fundamental in so many children's lives, teaching them the most important aspects of life...like to always be kind, to do what you enjoy, and to always be the best that you could be.

    I can still remember how I felt going into kindergarten...scared. However, Mrs. Mark knew exactly how to ease the minds of all her students and make them look forward to going to school, making friends, and learning. Mrs. Mark did a remarkable job at planting the seed for knowledge into each of her students hearts.

    There is so much I could say about the influence Mrs. Mark has had on my life. She was a beautiful woman, with such zeal for life and her work. Her memory forever lives on in my heart, as well as in the hearts of everyone else she has touched. She will be greatly missed.
    <3

    Jessica Benson

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  10. Not only did I have the good fortune to be one of her kindergartners, I also had the honor of teaching with Jan at Live Oaks for a number of years. She was as kind a spirit to children as she was to adults. She was truly reMARKable. I loved her very much.

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  11. Having known Jan for some 45 years when my brother first brought her home for the family to meet, I can say with much clarity that I have never met a more caring, compassionate, kind and honest person. If Jan was going to do something you knew she was going to put her all into it.

    Some of my fondest memories are when my Dad and I lived with them while my home was being built. There would always be conversations while we prepared dinner and they would eventually turn to school and what was happening with her students. You could always tell that teaching was a great passion and something she enjoyed. The stories she would tell were so compelling that you could almost envision yourself in them.

    Jan had many talents. The one that always impressed me and sometimes took my breath away was ability to make greeting cards for whatever holiday was coming up. I was always amazed not only from her artistic ability but the poetic sayings she would come up with. Whether it was serious or funny she would come up with just the appropriate saying for each individual person. Funny, but I still have some of those cards she made just for me. It's kind of hard to throw them away.

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  12. There are no words to express the loss we all feel in her passing. She was a special person to everyone who knew her and she touched each person in her own special way.

    God Bless you Jan and thank you for being you!

    Love ya, Mary-Jo

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  13. One of the most amazing women I know, and am so blessed to have been a part of her life. Jan was my kindergarten teacher, and then my children were lucky enough to also have her as their kindergarten teacher. She never ceased to amaze me with her enthusiasm, and love of teaching. We kept in touch after her retirement through letters and phone calls, and I always told her she should have wrote a book for teachers on how to retire the right way. She continued to enjoy life every second. My family has many memories of Jan as a teacher, but also as a friend. We even had the opportunity to go hiking with her, an adventure we will never forget. As my son would always say "A Mrs. Mark Adventure."
    When I read that "she considered herself lucky to have extraordinary family,friends and students," all I could think was it was because of who she was to all of us and how much we all loved and respected her.

    Her contagious smile and beautiful soul will be missed greatly.

    Tanya Rotzal

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  14. I am saddened to hear this sad news. My daughters were blessed to have her begin their school "adventures". She was a fantastic teacher who gave her all. I have fond memories of working with her in her class and subbing for her. One fond memory is her yearly trip to Sleeping Giant Mt. There are many more memories. She will be missed by many. God Bless her.
    ~
    Dorothy Beers,
    Milford, Connecticut

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  15. Dear Shannon Mark and Family,
    Jan's obituary says it all. My daughters, husband and I have only the most wonderful memories of her. Jan was a teacher that will always be on a "golden pedestal". Teachers just do not have the same professionalism and caring ways with children as she had. Her students were always smiling at the end of their school day! May God Bless all of you at this sad time - your beautiful memories of your mom will help you to move forward with your lives as she would want you to do. Love to all of you.
    ~
    Pattie Donaldson,
    Milford, Connecticut

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  16. Mrs. Mark was a special teacher, who my children were fortunate enough to have, what seems like such a long time ago. The fact that they still remember so many of the lessons that she taught them, is a true testament to her special skills as an educator. Since they say that everything you need to know in life you learn in Kindergarten, we are blessed that their teacher was Jan Mark. May your sadness be comforted with the knowledge that she touched so many families in such a positive way.
    ~
    Mike Taylor,
    Milford, Connecticut

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  17. We are shocked and saddened of Mrs. Mark's passing. I met her after my wife passed away, at the time she was evaluating our son to determine if he should advance to kindergarten,as his nursery school felt he was not ready. Mrs. Mark concluded that he was ready. When I visited the class room I saw how she encouraged the kids to learn through music, games, art and love. Her teaching inspired our youngest to pursue music and acting, both of which he has become successful, and he is planning to become a teacher, because he wants to be that "cool teacher like Mrs. Mark". Our oldest did not have her as a teacher, but had been involved after school in the gardens, he had learned a lot from her and has many fond memories of those times. We especially remember the Halloween and Thanksgiving Parades around the school, and her costumes. Over the years there at Live Oaks we became friends and she always kept an eye on our youngest all through elementary school. Mrs. Mark was an awesome teacher and a wonderful person. Our condolences to her family. God blessed us with her presence, it was an honor to know her.
    ~
    Ken, Laura, Dan, and Tommy D'Ademo,
    Cumming, Georgia

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  18. I was very saddened to hear of Mrs. Mark's passing. We were truly blessed to have such a treasure at Live Oaks School. My son was evaluated by Mrs. Mark to see if he should be in a self-contained environment or in a regular kindergarten classroom and she felt he would be better off in a regular classroom and how right she was. Although he did not end up in her class, she made a lasting impression on me and my son. (my son loved her because she always said "awesome") They sure don't make them like her anymore.
    ~
    C.C.,
    Milford, Connecticut

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  19. Mrs. Mark, was by far my favorite teacher...I was a mess when I came into her class. I had just gotten expelled from kindergarten at Simon Lake, and I was then put into Live Oaks. I was a demon of a child, but Mrs. Mark changed me. She made me respect what and who I had in my life, and not take anything for granted. She made me who I am now, and I am horrified that I am just finding about this now. 11 years ago this woman saved me from myself and made me a good person, and now she's gone. R.I.P. Mrs. Mark, I love you and thank you so much...for everything.
    ~
    Asia Coby,
    Milford, Connecticut

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  20. As I look back at pictures of Jan Mark leading her kindergarten kids through the hills of Sleeping Giant and in song during her Thanksgiving Indian Shows as she soothingly played her guitar, I know that my three children and I were truly blessed to have known her. How fortunate for us and all of the families whose lives were touched by this dynamic, energetic woman! You too were blessed, I am sure, to have had this amazing lady as your Mom.

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