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Obituary: Janecek, Lionell “Gunny”

Age 83

JANECEK, Lionell “Gunny” On January 20, 2013, there was a huge reunion in Heaven as Lionell was welcomed into God’s presence. We can only imagine the joy when Lionell was reunited with his beloved wife, Ann and his family and friends. Lionell was a solidly good man, who was devoted to his family and friends. He was known as a consummate gentleman with a keen sense of humor and a contagious belly laugh. Standing six foot four inches, he was a large man with a huge, loving and generous heart. He was born in Richwood, West Virginia on October 4, 1929 to Jerome and Esther (Walker) Janecek. Lionell’s family moved to Millwood in 1931 when his father obtained a position as the Supervisor of the Inland Empire Paper Mill. Lionell’s family put a premium on education and hard work and Lionell did not disappoint. For years, the Janecek family had a truck farm in the Spokane Valley and Lionell and his sister Joan both worked hard to help their family. According to Dad, he stayed busy studying, working the farm and hunting. Perhaps destined to become a US Marine, Lionell received his nickname “Gunny” from his childhood friends who poked fun at the suits that his mother made him wear to school. Lionell graduated as valedictorian from West Valley High School in 1948. He attended WSU from 1948 to 1952 where he graduated with honors with a Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering. After graduation from WSU, he joined the US Marines Corp and served as a Lieutenant in Korea from 1952 to 1954. Returning to the US, Lionell found himself at a USC - WSU rally in southern California where he saw Ann Baker. Ann had run against Lionell for Treasurer at WSU several years earlier. (They didn’t like to talk about who won that election). Seeing one another again, Lionell was instantly smitten with Ann and after a whirlwind romance; the two eloped to the El Toro Marine Base in June 1954. Lionell and Ann set up their home in Long Beach, California, where Lionell worked for Shell Oil Company. Their first child, Jay, arrived in 1956, followed by Jill in 1960 and Jon in 1962. In 1964, Lionell earned his Masters in Business Administration from Long Beach State University. Lionell transferred from Shell Oil Company to Douglas Oil in the 1964 and was promoted over the years to increasingly complex administrative and management positions in the Douglas Oil Company. Lionell and Ann raised their children in Seal Beach, California. Lionell was president of the Los Alamitos School Board for a number of years and was proud to serve the community. In 1982, Lionell retired as Vice President and Director of Planning for Douglas Oil, a subsidiary of Conoco Oil. Lionell tried his hand at real estate for a few years before relocating back to the Spokane Valley in 1993. He and Ann had a home built in the Ponderosa neighborhood. They returned every winter to Seal Beach to visit friends and family. Returning “home” to the Spokane Valley was perfect for Lionell. He was able to reconnect with old friends and loved spending extra time with his family. Every fall, he went hunting around the Palouse at his old stomping grounds. Once a month, he shared a meal with his fellow Conoco retirees and appreciated their friendship. His favorite activities were being with friends and family, hunting, clam digging, walking the dogs around the neighborhood, traveling and enjoying meals with friends. During his retirement, he and Ann traveled the world and loved seeing new sights and meeting new people. Their travels included Europe, China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico. Ann and Lionell were married for over 50 years, when Ann passed away in May of 2005. As it is written on their shared headstone, Ann and Lionell were “Partners in Life and Partners for Eternity.” He lost his soul mate when his beloved wife Ann passed away. Lionell was preceded in death by his parents, Jerome and Esther Janecek and his loving wife Ann Baker Janecek. He is survived by his sister Joan Trapp (Rathdrum, Idaho) and children, Jay Janecek (Maria), Jill Cobb (David) and Jon Janecek (Lupe), seven grandchildren (Jessica, Joleen, Jacob, Paul, Robin, Kyle and Ryan) and two great grandchildren (Sierra and Makenzie). His life was made more joyful by the friendship and companionship of Dar Willmering. His nearly lifetime friends included Gretchen Armstrong, Tom Mariner, Joe Michielli, Kenny Gibson, Hanna Cohen and Norma Kolb. He touched many people over his eighty-three years of life and will be sorely missed by many. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 1:00pm at New Life Assembly of God, 10920 E Sprague Ave, Spokane Valley, WA, 99206. Private graveside services were held with military honors. Special appreciation to the loving care provided to Lionell by Hospice of Spokane. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s foundation of America or Hospice of Spokane. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. Corinthians 13:13