Janeth Mauk Miller, 80, died April 4, 2021 at Prairie Wind Senior Living in Berryton, KS.
Jan was born March 31, 1941 to Harold Eugene Mauk, Sr., and Frances (McCarter) Mauk in Kansas City, MO.
She grew up mostly in the Kansas City area. Since her dad was in the army and later had a construction business, she moved often in her early years. Her dad would build a house, the family would live in it to meet tax requirements, then sell that house and move into another house that her dad had built. She went to many different schools during these years and remembered leaving her school books on the school steps because they were moving again.
Jan often talked about playing clarinet and bassoon in band while attending Shawnee Mission High School and was thrilled when the band was invited to the Tournament of Roses Parade. Normally she marched with her clarinet, but she decided she wanted to play the bassoon in the parade. Bassoons are not usually a marching instrument because they are very large and have a thin metal tube (a bocal) that is easily bent. Jan solved that problem by making a bocal out of rubber tubing; she still didn’t get to march with the bassoon. Instead, she was given a glockenspiel and moved to the percussion section. She graduated from Shawnee Mission in 1959.
Jan then attended the University of Kansas where she lived in Douthart Scholarship Hall, catty-corner from Stephenson Scholarship Hall for men. While working on a float for the Homecoming Parade, she needed some supplies. Someone told her to call Ed Miller at Stephenson; he was a nice guy and was happy to give people a ride. Thus Jan and Ed met and began dating. They were married on September 2, 1962. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education – Latin from The University of Kansas in Lawrence in 1963 and later, after many summers of classes, earned a Master of Library Science degree from Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia.
Shortly after graduating from KU, Jan and Ed’s first child, daughter Susan Rae, was born in 1963. As soon as they were allowed, the family moved to Osborne, KS, where Ed taught K-12 art. While there, Jan took up canning, worked as a transcriptionist at the local hospital, and ran the swimming program at the town pool. In 1965 son Richard Wayne was born. Osborne was near the town of Nicodemis. Jan was asked if she was okay with a new nurse from Nicodemis as her labor and delivery nurse. Jan and Ed were perfectly fine with that and Rick made history as the first child born in Osborne with the assistance of a black nurse.
Small town life was not for Jan and in 1966 Ed became an art teacher at Shawnee Heights High School near Topeka, KS. This was shortly after the historic Topeka tornado and housing was scarce. So they bought a double-wide trailer and found a lot for rent in Berryton, KS. In 1968 Shawnee Heights was in need of a librarian mid-year, since the current librarian’s husband was re-stationed by the Air Force. Jan was hired as the new librarian with the agreement that she would begin work on a library science degree. At that time, the high school was part of what is now the middle school. As the school needed more classrooms and expanded, Jan got the opportunity to lay out the library inside a strange triangular space with a curving wall on the long side. She figured out how to make it functional and learned about library layout in the process.
Librarians were also the keepers of things such as tape recorders, projectors, and video cameras. Jan started a class in broadcasting and Shawnee Heights had a public access channel. School events were reported and sports were broadcast on the station. At least one student went on to a career as a news cameraman.
Then came computers and they also fell under library equipment. Jan was now the media specialist. She took to the early computers easily and was proud to obtain a Microsoft A1 certification which enabled her to service Microsoft products. She worked through cassette tapes, large floppy disks, small floppy disks, and hard drives. She did trouble shooting for teachers and added computers to the broadcasting classes.
One of her duties as the media specialist was to inventory all the books and equipment each summer. She usually only took a few weeks off in the summer and some of that time was devoted to classes for recertification. She was also called when there was a break-in at the school to inventory equipment in order to document items that were damaged or stolen.
School teachers also have many other responsibilities. Jan was the Pep Club sponsor, ran the junior class magazine sale each year, and coordinated the candy counter. She also supervised the bands for dances as they set up and did sound checks. One of these bands was KANSAS. Jan and Ed had occasion to be sponsors at many school dances. They went to prom together for nearly 30 years.
She had another opportunity to give input on the design of a library and adjoining tech rooms for the new Shawnee Heights Senior High School which opened in the fall of 1980.
As an educator Jan may have helped students the most, particularly young women, because of her love of sports. Growing up in the 1940s and 50s she had little opportunity to play organized sports. When Susie was in grade school there was a small group of girls who wanted to play intermural softball in the summer but needed more players and a coach. So Jan signed up as coach and went door to door through Berryton to recruit more players. She still laughed about the first game when her first batter, a lefty, hit the ball and preceded to run to third base! Susie was not at all athletic, so Jan did not take on this responsibility so her child could play; it was for all of the girls in the neighborhood.
In 1972 the Title IX portion of the Education Amendments was passed by the US Congress. Title IX protects people from sexual discrimination in education programs and activities. For girls and young women this meant an opportunity to participate in competitive athletics, just as male students could. One way schools tried to get around this law in the early years was to say that there weren’t enough coaches for girls’ sports too, or that the coach was male so the female athletes would be unsupervised in the locker room. So Jan became a “coach of record” for girls’ volleyball and basketball at Shawnee Heights for many years. She rode team buses all over northeast Kansas to different matches and games. This way there was an adult female available for locker rooms and there were two adults with the team in case of emergency or competition on multiple courts. Many young women at Shawnee Heights were able to enjoy competitive sports due to Jan’s dedication.
Jan also became an official scorekeeper and timekeeper for volleyball and basketball. She worked the clock or kept the official score sheets for many years at Shawnee Heights. Since Ed was filming the same games, they were sometimes able to grab a hot dog for dinner together. She was also asked to work at the officials’ table during state tournaments held in Topeka. She took her assignment seriously and would not start the clock until the basketball referee lowered his or her arm.
Jan retired from Shawnee Heights in 1997 following Ed’s retirement in 1994. In retirement she enjoyed doing “string arts” such as spinning, knitting, crochet, tatting, and bobbin lace. She always liked to learn new things and after she mastered one she would move on to another. She was a member and instructor in several string groups. She was ambidextrous and was able to teach left handed crafters easily. She also demonstrated her different skills at local festivals and fairs. Jan and Ed did some traveling and for a short time had a business videotaping weddings. Jan also enjoyed golf and was tickled when PGA player Gary Woodland joined her and Nelda Reynolds as they played the final holes at Lake Shawnee Golf Course.
Her happy retirement was shortened by Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Ed cared for her at home until her medical needs became too many. She lived the last two years at Prairie Wind Senior Living where she was loved and well cared for by the incredible staff. Ed joined her at Prairie Wind in 2020, due to the covid pandemic. They celebrated their 58th Wedding Anniversary on Sept. 2, 2020, with steak and pecan pie thanks to the staff at Prairie Wind.
Jan is survived by her husband, Ed Miller of Berryton; her children, Susan (Kevin) Dyer of Greeley, CO and Rick (Tammy) Miller of Wakarusa; grandchildren, Robert Dyer of Austin, TX, Abby Miller of Berryton, Amanda Miller and Braedan Miller of Wakarusa. She is also survived by her brothers Harold Eugene “Gene” Mauk of Bonner Springs, KS and William C. “Bill” (Donna) Mauk of Ellisville, MO; her sister-in-law, Deloris (Richard) Ewing of Valley Center KS and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Harold Eugene Mauk, Sr. and Frances McCarter Mauk.
A funeral ceremony will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, April 9, 2021 at the Berryton United Methodist Church, 7010 SE Berryton Rd., Berryton, KS 66409. A visitation will take place one hour prior to the service time. Interment will follow at Lynn Creek Cemetery in Berryton, KS.
Dove Cremations and Funerals – Southwest Chapel, 3700 SW Wanamaker Rd., Topeka, KS 66610 is assisting the family.
In honor of Jan’s dedication to equal opportunities for girls and women the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Women’s Sports Foundation, #TheEquityProject. Anyone that would like to make a gift via mail can do so utilizing the following address: Women’s Sports Foundation, 247 W 30th St., 5th Fl., New York, NY 10001 or via the website, https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/support-us/.
Please check the box when making your contribution in memory of Janeth Mauk Miller.
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