Janice Ruth Anchell was born on May 12, 1927, in Vancouver, Canada to Dena (née Weinberg) and Julius Levick. Dena, born in London, England, was an accomplished violinist, who received her degree in music from the University of Vancouver BC. Julius, born in Ekaterinoslav, Russia (now Dnipro, Ukraine), received his medical degree from the University of Manitoba.
At only a few months of age, Janice moved to the small town where she would grow up, Elk City, Oklahoma. On more than one occasions, Janice retold how every day her mother and father praised her beauty and intelligence. We like to think that this played a large part in molding Janice, who throughout her life was a confident and joyous woman. As intelligence and joy give rise to wit, Janice was renowned for her quick humor and playfulness. For example, two days before passing, the cardiologist told her that she had a few options that could buy her some more time, to which she responded, “I’ll buy ten more years.”
Janice—a petite blonde with an upturned nose and sparkling blue eyes—was blessed with inordinate beauty, more captivating than any starlet. This beauty lasted through her entire life, and even at ninety-six, while lying in her hospital bed she was lovely to behold.
Janice studied radio journalism (a predecessor of television writing) for a few years at the University of Oklahoma. These studies ended shortly after marrying Melvin Anchell a physician who worked at the same hospital as Julius. In the years that followed, Janice and Mel had five children—Wendy, Marilyn, Stephen, Douglas and James. The last child, James, was the most handsome and intelligent, and may have inherited some of his mom’s humor.
In the 1960s, after her children were grown, Janice returned to her love of writing, by being a student of the art from playwright Lajos Egri. Those stories were recently published in a book entitled, “For Garden Seed,” and presented to her as a surprise on Thanksgiving Day, 2022. She passed away on November 25, 2023—two days after the following Thanksgiving. For one year of her life, she was a bona fide writer, and this made her extremely happy.
Also in the early 1960s, Janice and Mel moved to Southern California, where they were joined shortly thereafter by Janice’s beloved younger sister and confidante, Diana Malat. Over the years, Janice and Diana joyously shared countless family holiday and lifecycle events together, as well as the occasional coffee date to dish on matters of the day.
Others surviving Janice include her seven grandchildren (Leslie Hollingsworth, Mark Oxman, Alexander Breskin, Kayla Anchell, Jonathan Anchell, Brandon Anchell, Grant Anchell), and four great-grandchildren (Lauren Hollingsworth, Jacob Hollingsworth, Hailey Breskin, Natalie Breskin). Each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren was her favorite, and each was beyond exception.
Preceding Janice in death was her husband and life partner of sixty-one years, Mel, and her much loved little brother, Norman. Although Norman lived over a thousand miles from Janice, they were always close at heart. Heart-wrenchingly, Janice was also preceded in death by her daughter and best friend, Marilyn.
After Mel’s passing, Janice met the second love of her life, Richard (Dick) Jerrels. We considered ourselves blessed that Janice and Dick found each other, and the family is eternally grateful to Dick for the way that he doted on our mother and made her last decade one filled with love and contentment.
Among Janice’s other passions was gardening. She had well over a hundred potted plants in and around her house, and she and Dick would sit for long stretches in simple chairs in their community garden, admiring and planning their next crop. Janice loved animals, too, and founded a now defunct charitable organization in the 1970s named Pet Orphans that rescued and rehomed animals from shelters. Among papers found following her passing were thank you notices from donations to the SPCA. For this reason, we are suggesting that as an alternative to flowers, donations may be made in her honor to the Animal Assistance League of Orange County (aaloc.org).
Janice was loved by all and was a spectacular, bright light. Her passing has made the world a little darker.
Animal Assistance League Of Orange County
- Website: https://www.aaloc.org