Jan Delaney
Jane Delany (left) with Ray Perry opening the revamped Visitor Centre in June 2015.

Obituary for Janice Kay “Jan” Delaney

Janice Kay “Jan” Delaney was born July 8, 1941 at Flora, Illinois. She was the eldest of four children born to Robert Francis Delaney and Helen Gladys Boze. Jan received her education at Flora, where she graduated from high school in 1959. She continued her schooling at the McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois before transferring to the George Peabody Teacher’s College in Nashville, Tennessee. After earning her degree, Jan taught high school English for two years in Louisville, Illinois. She then moved to North Dakota to work in the library at Dickinson State College for two more years.

In 1970 Jan came to Montana where she taught school at Plains, Cut Bank, Inverness, The Gildford Colony, and the Sage Creek Colony. She “fell in love with the Hi-Line” and made her home in Rudyard during the next 30 years. During the summer months or when she wasn’t teaching, Jan stayed busy delivering newspapers, selling books, running a hobby greenhouse, and managing a local restaurant. She loved genealogy and history, so she became very active in researching local historical events. Jan and her Rudyard friend, Lydia Langel, who were like daughter and mother, travelled up-and-down the Hi-Line to document these interesting stories. Together, they identified all of the burials at the Rudyard Cemetery and solicited donations to provide headstones for all of the “unmarked” graves. Jan was also instrumental in acquiring the old Railroad Depot in Rudyard and soliciting funds to have it relocated and remodeled to house the site of the present Rudyard Museum. She spent countless hours on this project with other Rudyard friends to make this the wonderful facility it is today!

In 2000 Jan moved to Teller, Alaska to work as a teacher in the Bering Strait School District. During her 14 years there, Jan continued to travel to Montana in the summers to renew old friendships. She enjoyed spending time at her home in Rudyard and at her little “get-a-way” trailer in Plains. Jan kept up on local events through e-mails, phone calls, and news publications. In addition, she wrote a weekly article for the Liberty County Times (Chester, MT) and the Clay County Republic (Flora, IL) newspapers: this article was called “North from Alaska” where Jan shared interesting tidbits about her new life and friends in the north country.

During her time in Alaska, Jan developed a close relationship with a fellow-teacher, Pamela Johnson-Haugan and her family, who hailed from Watford City, N.D.   When Jan completed her Alaskan teaching contract in 2014, she moved to Parshall and began teaching in the elementary school. While there she continued to write an article called “Around the Edges” for the Liberty County Times, which kept Hi-Line friends informed about the Bakken oil boom in western North Dakota. Because Jan developed recurring health issues secondary to her breast cancer, she finished her final school year at Parshall this spring. In June, she was fortunate to take one last trip to Rudyard, England to say farewell to the many friends she met during those years of travel and genealogy as it related to the history of Rudyard, MT.

Jan returned home to Rudyard with her friend, Pamela, who cared for her physical needs and helped plan her final details. Jan died peacefully, knowing she lead a full and active life, at her home on October 16, 2015. She was 74 years old.

A graveside memorial service was held at 2:00PM, Monday, October 19, 2015 at the Rudyard Cemetery. Pamela and other close friends shared personal remembrances. Pamela and ladies provided musical tributes from the Gildford Colony. A coffee hour followed at the Rudyard Senior Center with food provided by the Gildford Colony and the TOPS Club. Per Jan’s request, a portion of her ashes are buried in Rudyard on the grave of her friend, Lydia Langel, and the remaining ashes will be buried in the Delaney family plot at Clay City, IL.

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