People have been emailing me this morning with Jan stories and so I thought I'd add mine:
Jan and I first met in 1986 at a Gonzaga University English faculty dinner. I was newly married to my husband, an English professor, and Jan was married to Fran Polek, a senior professor in the department. One of the other spouses there asked me if I did "freelance human interest features" for the newspaper.
Jan got between me and the woman and loudly said: "She used to cover politics for USA Today!" She is a woman in her own right!"
In the 1980s, women's equality was still a fairly new concept. So it was a big deal to counter gender stereotypes when you heard them. (The woman assumed I didn't work full-time because my husband was a professor. And she assumed I would have a "softer" beat because I was a woman.)
Jan's work, and the work of other pioneers in women's equality, led to today's reality. I still work full-time and now write "human interest features" and am proud of it. I am just as proud to be a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, stepmom and grandma. We can "have it all" now or have the choice to do so.
Thanks Jan. For all.
(S-R archive photo of Jan Polek and her daughter Jenny)