Janet Mae (Ditlefsen) Brainard was born on May 11, 1946 in Frederic, WI to Lester and Ardyce Ditlefsen. Following a hard-fought thirteen year battle with breast cancer, she passed away at age 74 on October 30, 2020, surrounded by family, her pastor, and her dear friends and former colleagues at M Health Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, MN, where she worked for 17 years until her retirement in 2018.
Janet attended grade school in Luck, WI, and graduated from Unity High School, Balsam Lake, WI in 1964. She then became a Registered Nurse upon completing her training at Lutheran Deaconess Hospital, Minneapolis, MN in 1967. This began a long career in which she made lifelong friends and touched many lives through her skill as well as her compassion. In May of 1969 she was immediately smitten upon meeting Dale E. Brainard, and after a quick six month courtship they were married on November 22nd. The ensuing 51 years brought them 3 loving children, 5 different states to call home, and travels around the world, all while making countless memories together. Because of her children’s participation in competitive swimming she, alongside Dale, became a swimming official for local swim clubs; over time she was elevated to the National Championship level culminating at the 2008 Olympic Trials. She continued to officiate for the Minnesota State High School League until 2019.
Janet had a passion for quilting, at which she was impressively skilled. She competed in quilting competitions, created beautiful pieces for her church, and was able to pass on her love and knowledge of quilting through teaching. One of her most cherished activities was attending various quilting retreats with friends. For the past 20 years she worshiped and volunteered at St Paul Lutheran Church in Wyoming, MN, which brought her great joy and a wonderful community. Myriad activities with her extended family and wide circle of friends in the Minneapolis-St Paul area rounded out an active social life.
Jan was a wellspring of unconditional love. She possessed unending compassion, incredible strength, and a fervent acceptance of all. It was impossible to meet Jan and not have her touch your life and soul in some meaningful way. While she will be missed deeply, her love and spirit will live on in all who were blessed enough to have her in their lives. Janet was preceded in death by her parents, Lester and Ardyce Ditlefsen.
She is survived by her husband Dale; children Christina, Cary (JeanMarie), and Cameron (Sarah Slick), and an unborn granddaughter. She is also survived by two sisters, Joan and Jill; five brothers, John, Jerome, Joel, Jeffrey, and Jay; as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews, and godchildren.
Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 12:00 Noon at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 5879 Wyoming Trail, Wyoming, MN 55092. Janet's family will greet visitors prior to the service at the church.
She will be laid to rest at the Fristad Lutheran Cemetery in Centuria.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to St Paul Lutheran Church in Wyoming, MN.
The Kolstad Family Funeral Home of Centuria has been entrusted with arrangements.
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