The Virtual Celebration of Life for
Janice A. Blanks
Saturday, December 19, 2020
3:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Thank you for participating in the upcoming memorial service. This virtual event will use Zoom video conferencing which requires a suitable computer set-up.
Since this is a virtual service, please plan on connecting at least 10 minutes before the service begins to minimize connectivity issues.
If You Are Using A Telephone
In the US dial +1 (646) 558-8656
Use Meeting ID 991 5975 6145
International phone numbers here
Janice Adele Blanks was the second of three daughters born to Ida and James Marshall on February 12, 1936 in the city of Newark, New Jersey. She grew up in a loving and lively blended family that included another elder sister and four younger siblings when Ida remarried James Kee.
She graduated from Barringer High School, Newark in 1955 where she ran track and was a cheerleader.
Janice had a love of the arts, music and fashion and graduated from Grace Del Marco Agency, in Harlem New York, one of the first modeling agencies and charm schools to book African Americans. Diahann Carroll, Cecily Tyson, Gil Noble, Camille Cosby, and Richard Roundtree were among the alumni of the agency and Janice attended with Ebony Fashion Fair model Audrey Smaltz.
Janice met the love of her life Thornton Robert Blanks, Jr when he retuned from the Air Force, through mutual friends. After a short courtship, they were joined in holy matrimony on July 27, 1957 at Shiloh Baptist Church in Newark. Of this union two daughters were born, Susan Lynn and Stephanie Michelle. Janice was full of pride for her daughters and their children. She spoke with delight about her six grandchildren, Gino, Cam, Dillon, Niki, Bree and Zac. That joy continued as her great grandchildren, Cameron Jr., Charli, Eastyn, Rhyz, Corrado and Max were born.
Janice was a working mother who proudly worked outside of the home in order to support her family. She worked in telephone sales selling freezers for a meat packing company, and in manufacturing at the Westinghouse Lamp Plant in Bloomfield, New Jersey when her girls were little.
When her husband Thornton took a chance on an assessment test that led to a life changing career opportunity with IBM in 1967, Janice’s support and sense of adventure resulted in a smooth transition from their family in East Orange, New Jersey to a new life in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Janice and Thornton gained many lifelong friends through other families who moved to Poughkeepsie to join IBM. They joined Ebonite’s bowling league that competed and traveled nationwide- winning a championship in 1990. They celebrated holidays and vacationed with friends from work, church and his softball and golfing leagues. Janice was also a member of the Twinks Social and Civic Club, Poughkeepsie Chapter.
Janice continued to be a working mother in Poughkeepsie, most memorably as the unofficial “partner” to Pharmacist Ronald Giordano at Smith Street Drugs, a corner store and fixture in the neighborhood for more than 40 years. Janice and Ron were more than employee and boss but shared a friendship that crossed gender and color norms and supported each other’s growing families for decades.
After the drug store, Janice joined her husband at IBM where she worked in the tape library and assembled computers at the Poughkeepsie plant until she retired. Her retirement was short-lived when she decided to take a part -time job at Stop & Shop Supermarket where she was quickly promoted to handle customer service at the in-store pharmacy. As a result of her own health trials as a Breast Cancer Survivor and with chronic back pain, or her natural warmth she had great empathy and kindly served customers dealing with medications and illness. After a serious physical health challenge, she retired officially from Shop & Stop.
In 2001, and in retirement Janice and Thornton made another life changing decision to sell their home in Poughkeepsie and move back to New Jersey to able to enjoy events and spend holidays with their daughters’ families and their beloved grandchildren. They settled in Flanders, New Jersey and attended high school plays, soccer and basketball games, and graduations. They developed a wide group of friends through church where they regularly volunteered in the soup kitchen.
In 2016, Janice and Thornton in their 80’s made the brave decision to move to Southfield Michigan to an independent living community called American House, later renamed Park House Senior Living. At American House they made many friends and enjoyed the amenities that added to their quality of life in their senior years.
Through it all, Janice and Thornton were faithful congregants. Janice accepted Christ at an early age at Shiloh Baptist Church. When she married Thornton, they joined Bethany Baptist Church also in Newark. In Poughkeepsie they were active members of Beulah Baptist Church where Thornton served as a Deacon and Janice was a Trustee and sang in the Beulah Mass Choir. When they moved to Flanders, they joined Calvary Baptist Church in Morristown, New Jersey. As the President of Calvary’s Golden Years Ministry, Janice organized annual dinner theater trips and other charitable events. She was also active in Calvary’s Cancer Awareness Ministry, Women of Purpose Ministry and she and Thornton were faithful attendants of Sunday School. Finally, in Michigan they joined New Hope Baptist Church in Southfield where Janice continued to attend online services through the pandemic and restrictions on gathering.
Janice loved people and by her own admission she had “the gift of gab”. She loved helping people whenever she could and wanted nothing in return. She often called women diagnosed with Breast Cancer to share her testimony and prove that there was much life to live after a diagnosis. Janice loved Broadway musicals from South Pacific to Hamilton, from singers Johnny Mathis to Josh Groban. She was artistic and loved to craft, paint and knit. She sewed beautiful clothes for herself, her daughters and her granddaughters. In her later years she took up knitting again in earnest. She was an incredible home cook with volumes of cookbooks. Some fortunate friends of her daughters and grandchildren were lucky enough, upon request, to be the recipients of casseroles or the individually wrapped brownies she baked and mailed to her grandchildren while they were away college. She also created homemade greeting cards, designed specifically for each recipient and cherished by those who received them.
Janice was a devoted wife and partner to Thornton for 62 years until the day he went home to be with the Lord.
She leaves to cherish her memories: daughters, Susan Zorestki (Ronald) Bloomfield New Jersey and Stephanie Stevenson (Brian) Grosse Pointe Woods Michigan; grandchildren, Jovanni Ramos (Jacob Barclay) New Orleans Louisiana, Cameron Ramos Poughkeepsie New York, Dillon Stevenson New York New York, Nicollette Ramos Scottsdale, Arizona, Brianne Stevenson Roseville Michigan, Zachary Zorestki Bloomfield New Jersey. Her sisters, retired Colonel Martha Baker Aurora Colorado, and Gwendolyn Roberts Linden New Jersey. Sister -in-laws: Muriel Thompson (Robert) Sunnyvale California, Jeanne Hill Newark New Jersey, Novella Ray Apex North Carolina, and brother in law Leonard-Blanks (Joanne Jolly-Blanks) San Pedro California. She was preceded in death by her sisters June Anthony and Norma Huffington both of Newark New Jersey, and brothers, Warren Kee Covington Georgia, Melvin Kee and Arthur Kee both of Newark New Jersey. She was the beloved mother, mother-in-law, great-grandmother, grandmother, a special cousin to many, and a favorite aunt and great aunt to a host of nieces and nephews throughout the country.