Janet Ilene (Sweeny) VanGilder of Millheim, PA died on December 15, 2020 at Centre Crest Nursing Home in Bellefonte, PA, following recent illness due to Covid-19 virus and extended disability from dementia.
Janet was born on July 6, 1938 and grew up in Lemont, PA, the daughter of Ralph and Pearl (Fishburn) Sweeny. She was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters Evelyn Homan and Lucy Walker, and an infant brother Dean. Janet became severely hearing-impaired at age 14 due to high fever from the measles. She learned lip reading and wore hearing aids her entire life. Janet had difficulty with this affliction but was determined to do many things in her life in spite of it.
Janet attended State College Area School District, graduating from high school in 1956. After high school she pursued her dream to become a nurse, attending nursing school at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. She met her husband Roy who was a classmate and during her final year of nursing school they were involved in a tragic car accident on Christmas Eve, losing some close friends. Janet was hospitalized w/in a coma with severe injuries, and Roy stayed by her side. When she woke up she had amnesia, and the only person she remembered was Roy. On June 13, 1959 they married and lived in Danville, PA where they started their family. Janet was a homemaker and mother during the early years of marriage in Danville, and later moving to Millheim in the late 1960’s. Janet became a librarian and later branch manager at the Aaronsburg branch of the Centre County Library for 25 years. Janet was proud to serve the public where she got to know many people in Penns Valley, and enabled her to pursue her lifelong love of reading and books. During her work at the library she also attended Northampton Community College and earned an Associate Degree in library science.
Janet was a religious person and regularly went to church, served as deacon, Sunday school teacher and church council member at various times. She attended Lutheran and United Church of Christ churches in State College, Danville and the Penns Valley area. She had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh with others. Janet liked to scrapbook and also actively searched for family ties through genealogy research on both sides of the family tree. Janet always wanted to see her ancestors’ homeland, and she and Roy were able to visit Ireland. She and Roy bought a motor home in retirement, and had great memories of many trips including travel across the United States, Alaska and Canada. Janet was a huge fan of major league baseball including the Pirates and Cubs, often recalling her childhood listening to the Pittsburgh Pirates on the radio with her father, later watching on tv and traveling to Pittsburgh to see games. Janet cheered loudly for the Penn State Nittany Lions football team, traveling to bowl games and attending home games for many years.
Surviving is her husband Roy of 61 years, son Roy Donald (Elizabeth Allyn) and grandchildren Tyler, Joshua, Sarah and Alex of Briarcliff Manor, New York; son Michael David (Cass Evelhoch) of Cranberry Township, PA; and daughter, Ilene Judith of Centre Hall, PA.
Janet always had a cat or two in her life, and leaves her most recent best pal Freddie in the loving care of her husband.
Memorial contributions may be made in her honor to the East Penns Valley Branch Library, 225 E Main St, Millheim, PA 16854 or Salem United Church of Christ, 4469 Penns Valley Rd, Spring Mills, PA 16875. There will be no services at this time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but will be announced at a later time.
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East Penns Valley Branch Library
Po Box 445, Millheim PA
Salem United Church of Christ
c/o Peggy Swartz 638 Tattletown Road, Aaronsburg PA 16820