Janet Dewey1928 - 2018
July 26, 1928 – January 24, 2018
If you tilt your ear toward the heavens and listen hard enough you’ll hear the tinkling of
keys—an organist tuning his instrument; perhaps a chorus of angels vocalizing, warming up,
singing scales. They are preparing for her; for the star alto to take the stage as the heavens are
now blessed with the soulful, spirited voice of Janet Dewey.
Janet was born July 26, 1928 to Peter and Jane Sawka in Detroit, Michigan. She passed
away, peacefully in her sleep, January 24, 2018. In the span of almost ninety years, Janet’s
repertoire was vast, and not just with regard to music, although she most definitely carried
under her arm and in her heart an endless musical soundtrack that guided her, and us, through
Precocious, smart, preternaturally talented, Janet barreled her way through school,
graduating high school at the age of sixteen. Posing as a nineteen-year-old, yet only sixteen,
Janet had the nerve and talent to sneak her way into a singing contest at the opulent Michigan
Theatre performing “Embraceable You”. She made it to the finals, accompanied by the Detroit
Although too young to receive a certificate to practice, Janet received her Bachelor of
Science in Nursing from Mercy College. Never deterred, she forged ahead toward her career
until a blind date sidetracked her; the record skipped, jumped ahead to another song and
changed her trajectory when she met the love of her life, her “Maurie”, Maurice Dewey. They
were blissfully married for fifty-six years, until his death in 2006.
Janet continued to add to her repertoire, giving birth to seven children within ten years:
Jane, Maurice Ill, Marianne, Peter, Judith, Monica, John. As she did with everything, Janet
embraced the role of wife and mother and spoiled us all with her talent in the kitchen: her
unparalleled pie crust, apple strudel, mouth-watering Sunday night dinners. Always a song at
the tip of her tongue, Janet graced the parishioners from above in the choir loft at St. William’s
Catholic Church in Walled Lake, Michigan—her rendition of “Ave Maria” … unsurpassed.
Once her last child was enrolled in school, Janet dusted off her nurse’s cap, starched and
ironed her hospital whites and strutted her way back to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Pontiac where
she worked her way up, in just a few short years, to the position of Director of Nursing.
After they retired, Janet and Maurie set up camp in a gorgeous log home in Rogers City,
Michigan. But retirement did not mean slowing down, as she joined the choir at St. Ignacious
Catholic Church; spun her own wool; knitted sweaters, booties and baby blankets for her
growing family; perfected the art of quilt-making, hand-sewing quilts for each of her children
and every single grandchild.
Janet was predeceased in death by her husband, Maurice, her parents Jane and Peter
Sawka and sister Irene. Surviving are her seven children and their loved ones: David, Lori,
Charlie, Alex, Gary and Kim; sixteen grandchildren, and nine 1/2 (the 10th coming in July) great-
The sound of her voice will forever be imprinted within our hearts but we know we can’t
be stingy and keep her all to ourselves, for it is time to share. We will find peace knowing that
she is now embraced in the wings of an angel, with a microphone in her hand, a glint of a smile
in her eye, our dad by her side, entertaining the heavens above. Keep on singing for us
Mom/Grammy/Janet… for we’ll be listening.
A Mass of the Resurrection will be held for Janet Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 11am in the chapel at
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in East Lansing. Visitation will be at 10am and a luncheon will follow the Mass.Send Condolences Back to Obituaries