Encouragement, care and a knack for listening. Janice Beryl Ferrari (Bjurstrom) seemed to be brought into this world to provide a lifetime of support to others; a career in nursing and decades of unwavering love and support of her husband’s career. She was a strong presence in her children’s lives through letter writing, phone calls, sending care packages and showing up on their every ‘move-in day’ clad with cleaning supplies to make their new spaces sparkle.
Jan was born in Cheswick, PA in the winter of 1943 where she swore she remembers sitting in her high chair as a toddler. Growing up as somewhat of a tomboy, she boasted about climbing the town’s water purification tower. Her most fond memories as a young girl were spending summers with her family at Conneaut Lake at their cottage, aptly named ‘The Garden Spot of the World’. The cottage was rented out in the early part of the summers and Jan loved cleaning alongside her mother between each new group of guests.
Jan attended Ringgold High School, where she was a majorette and most importantly became immediately smitten with Mickey Ferrari, 3 years her senior. After Mick graduated high school and boarded a greyhound bus to Michigan State University, Jan kept up with Mick by writing letters. After high school she attended a three-year program at Presbyterian University Hospital School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, PA, emerging as a Registered Nurse. Jan and Mick kept in touch through college and Jan remembers making calendars that she hung in her dorm room displaying a countdown of ‘how many days until Mickey day’ when they would temporarily be reunited.
Just days after her graduation the two were married in September of 1964 and moved to Cincinnati where she started her nursing career at Christ Hospital making $4,000/yr salary for full time work. She and Mick then moved to East Lansing, Michigan where their daughter was born, then to Kent, Ohio where they welcomed their son. Hopping from Bowling Green, Ohio, to Dayton, Ohio to Des Moines, Iowa to Fort Worth, Texas, Jan’s nursing career was eventually eclipsed by her desire to support her husband’s passionate work on university campuses. Jan’s role as a college president’s wife came naturally and was a source of pride and her top priority.
Jan’s happiest times were when she and her husband would spend their winter months in Scottsdale, Arizona planting flowers, taking walks and enjoying margaritas in the sun.
After 5 years in Fort Worth, Jan and her husband moved to Lake Forest, IL to be back in the Midwest closer to their seven grandkids. Just 2 years after her husband’s 5-year battle with pancreatic cancer of which Jan was his full time caregiver, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Her cause of death was a complication of this disease. On the morning of July 2, 2020, Jan passed away peacefully in Lake Forest at the age of 77. Her infectious and playful silliness will continue to live on as her legacy. Jan was preceded in death by her husband Michael Richard Ferrari, Jr., parents Carl Albert and Vera Zimmerly Bjurstrom, and sister Judith Price (Joseph). She is survived by her daughter Elizabeth (James) Masterson and son Michael (Jennifer) Ferrari III, and was loving ‘Nana’ to her seven grandchildren Vera, Bella, Maeve, Mickey, Seamus, Charlie and Henry.
She will be laid to rest beside her husband in Lake Forest Cemetery at a private burial with immediate family and her two devoted caregivers. Info: Wenban Funeral Home, Lake Forest, (847) 234-0022 or www.wenbanfh.com