A Canadian Native, Janice Nielson was born to Bernice Jacque and Willis Drace Johnson on November 25, 1948 in Raymond, Alberta, Canada.
A teacher to the Navajo students for over 20 years, Janice Nielson died in Rough Rock, AZ on January 21, 2009. Janice had an older brother, Gordon and a younger sister, Linda Cannon.
Early in her life her family moved to East Carbon, UT, where her father and grandfather worked in the coal mine. She prided herself as the “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” She loved being outdoors and loved to go camping. She participated in sports at school. She also grew up in Tooele, UT.
Janice Johnson earned a degree in Home Economics in 1967 from Brigham Young University and got her first job teaching in Georgia. While in Georgia she fell in love with southern cooking and came home saying, “Yawl.”
Her second job took her to Kayenta, AZ working with the Navajo students as a Home Economic teacher at Monument Valley High School.
She was a devout and active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was in Kayenta, AZ where she met her husband Gerry Nielson. Gerry was working as a teacher at the Kayenta Boarding School at the time.
In her church, she was called to be the Single Adult Coordinator by Bishop Tano. Activities were planned and sometimes Janice and Gerry were the only ones at the scheduled activity.
Soon a romance began and four months later in 1980, she was married. Her three children teased their mother and father by saying that Kayenta, AZ was the love capital of the Navajo Reservation.
Janice and Gerry loved and cherished their children, Benjamin, Rachel and Andrew. She was a good mother as she took great interest in the school, hobbies and made sure they took them to church.
When she was with Ben, Ben was the most important, and when whe was helping Rachel with her singing, she was the most important, and the same way with Andrew.
Ben graduated in Iberia, MO, Rachel graduated from San Juan High School in Blanding, UT in 2006, and Andrew is a senior at Rough Rock High School.
She served faithfully in Primary, Young Woman and Relief Society. She was a Den Mother with the Cub Scout Program while at Montezuma Creek and Aneth, UT.
With her family she moved and worked in various places, including Missouri, Aneth, Montezuma Creek, and finally found work in Rough Rock, AZ. Her husband Gerry was hired as the Librarian at Rough Rock High School’s brand new library.
Janice stayed home as a homemaker and had a love of scrapbooking. In one of her scrapbooks, she wrote the following:
“When I die I want to be known as, 1) A wonderful Wife, 2) Loving Mother, 3) Super Grandma, 4) Kind Neighbor, 5) Dedicated Daugher of Father in Heaven, 6) One who never gave up and 7) A Scrapbook Diva.”
Wherever she went, she lived one of God’s commandments: Love Thy Neighbor As thy Self. She would help anyone in need and touch the lives of many Navajo students.
Students loved to come to her house for a piece of cake or whatever was on the stove. She will be remembered as a good person, a good mother, a good wife and a good friend to all those who knew her.
A memorial service was held in her memory on Sunday January 25, 2009, at 6 p.m., at the Montezuma Creek Ward, where talks were given and lunch was served afterwards. She will be taken to Gerry’s home town in Sanford, CO on Wednesday, at 11 a.m. for a gravesite service.
Donations can be sent to Gerry Nielson, HC-61 P.O. Box 5000 BGG, Rough Rock Trading Post, Chinle, Arizona, 86503.