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Memories & Candles

“so sorry about losing your mom. I think of Jack's old friends often. ”
1 of 7 | Posted by: vi Hoeke - Milbank, SD

“I've been thinking of you since I learned of Janice's passing earlier this week. She was the older sister I never had. I enjoyed talking with her and...Read More »
2 of 7 | Posted by: Brian Purrington - Oronoco, MN

“I am very sad about Aunt Jan's passing. I will be unable to be there on Sunday, but please know that my thoughts and prayers are with all of you...Read More »
3 of 7 | Posted by: Kim Anderson - niece

“I am very sad about Aunt Jan's passing. I will be unable to be there on Sunday, but please know that my thoughts and prayers are with all of you...Read More »
4 of 7 | Posted by: Kim Anderson - Minneapolis, MN

“Emmett and Patrick, So sorry to hear about your mom's sudden death. I went through that with my dad, so I kind of understand a little bit of what...Read More »
5 of 7 | Posted by: Cindy Knight Williams - TX

“So Very sorry to hear that Janice passed away, and know she is happy and at peace with our Lord! We will be praying for your family - ”
6 of 7 | Posted by: Darrell "Frank" & Barbara Janzen - CO

“Thank you all so much for your support... ”
7 of 7 | Posted by: John J. KIrby - San Jose, CA


Janice Voletta Kirby, 71, of Willmar, died unexpectedly Tuesday evening, Jan 17, at her home in Willmar.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm on Sunday, Jan 22, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Willmar. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church on Sunday. Arrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home. Memorials are preferred to the Minnesota Chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, www.namihelps.org/donate.html.
Janice was born at home on May 20, 1940 near Windom, MN to Ruth and Leon Lowe and was 5th among 12 children. She graduated from Windom High School in 1958. While taking classes in psychology at the University of Minnesota she met and married John Joseph Kirby. They, along with John's daughter, Lucretia, began a family while living in St. Paul, MN. The next decade brought the birth of her five sons, a divorce and a move back to Windom amidst the turmoil of a debilitating mental illness.
She overcame this illness against all odds and became expert at living with it and teaching others to do the same. She lived for a time in Sabeka, but eventually established herself in Willmar. During the 1970s and 1980s she worked as a book keeper keeping several businesses solvent while raising her sons through their school years. In the later 1980s and 1990s, after her sons went to college, she opened up her home to individuals in need - many of whom were young people making the same transition she made two decades earlier. Janice was also a devoted member of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill shepherding local meetings and fronting the causes of people with her disability. She kept pursuing these community efforts after she retired from full time work in the 2000s. During this time she tried relocating to Missoula, MT but found that her heart missed Minnesota. She returned to Willmar in the later 2000s to stay for good. In her spare time she enjoyed reading, painting and caring for a pet that was always in the house. Janice also loved to bring her sons on fishing outings during her child-rearing years and enjoyed more recent trips sponsored by those sons. In a world where there are givers and takers she was unequivocally a giver and her children and community continue to share the benefits of her example of service to others. She was well loved and will be greatly missed.
She is survived by five sons: John (and Gina) Kirby of San Jose, CA, Tim Kirby of McMinnville, OR, Emmett (and Sandra) Kirby of Hillsboro, OR, Patrick Kirby (and Marla Hoehn) of Mountainview, CA and Ben (and Jennifer) Kirby of Missoula, MT; a stepdaughter: Lucretia Kirby of Minneapolis, MN; eight grandchildren: Melissa, Maria, Miranda, Malia, Evan, Owen, Lucas and Samuel; six brothers: Gene (and Eva) Lowe of San Carlos, CA, William Eitzen of Boulder, CO, Allen Eitzen of Morrison, CO, Donald Lowe of Marshall, MN, Dean Janzen of Hesston, KS and Darrel (and Barbara) Janzen of Littleton, CO; three sisters: Marybeth Lowe of Olivia, MN, Dodie (and Burt) Anderson of Mankato, MN, and Carol Wolk of Britt, MN; and other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents: Leon and Ruth Lowe; a brother: Bud Lowe; and a sister: Goldie Lowe.

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