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Janet Hutchison



Janet, a 1938 Oberlin College graduate, came back to Oberlin with her second husband Bill on October 5, 1993, as a founding resident of Kendal. Before moving here she was part of the Kendal planning team, even helping to choose the silver and china. She thinks she was asked to participate because of her enthusiasm.


When the main building was under construction it was hard to imagine what would be where. Janet was able to go up in a plane to view the campus from the air, and she says it looked like battlefield. Even when they moved in, there were little clumps of grass and lots of bare soil and mud, and no sidewalks yet. Her husband was the first to visit the nurse when he needed a bandage after he cut himself bringing in some of their things. She does recall the ribbon cutting took place on a beautiful and sunny day.


They loved touring the ponds and seeing the geese. Janet says that everyone seems to love the geese when they are goslings, but not once they have grown to adolescence! And their droppings are a slippery mess.


Janet has been very active with the League of Women Voters and the environmental movement. She was a key person in working to save the Cuyahoga River Valley and having it declared a National Park, even after she moved to Kendal. She continued to serve there as a volunteer until her car literally rusted away. She made what she calls the “sane decision” to stop driving, even though a little red roadster would have been nice. After she was no longer able to drive to the park, she continued to work on its history.


When Janet got sick, her kids helped move her to the care center near Bill, putting her things in carefully labeled storage boxes. Bill enjoyed visits from the children in the Kendal Early Learning Center (KELC), and loved the holidays. At his memorial, Janet and her family were presented with pictures showing Bill interacting with the children in KELC.


Now Janet enjoys knitting with friends like Jean Eaton, who is knitting her third quilt. Resident Jane Hannauer is teaching them how to drop every other stitch to make a beautiful, lacy scarf! Janet also likes to make beaded jewelry with Michelle in Art Studio.


Her three children are planning a big party for her 100th birthday in 3½ years. Janet says that planning for these next steps helps her focus. Gayle, her eldest, lives on the west coast, son John is in Washington, DC, and Mali lives in Sandhills, North Carolina.


Janet’s arthritis hurts, but she says that it‘s a little better when she gets nice, extra crisp bacon on the new red plates in the Friends Corner Dining Room like she did the morning of this interview!

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