Dr. Janel K. Harris, aged 70 years, 8 months, 22 days (March 20, 1949 – December 12, 2019), passed into the Lord's Kingdom after a courageous and heroic struggle to overcome a very aggressive phase of multiple myeloma, called plasma cell leukemia. She was an 18-year-survivor of breast cancer, having successfully fought that disease since 2001. She was admired throughout her life for her strength and resilience.
Janel was born in northern Wisconsin on March 20, 1949 to William Kenner “Kenner” Harris and Kathryn “Kay” Mary (Lawson) Harris. She was raised in Macomb, Illinois, and graduated with the Western High Class of 1967, whose classmates remained close-knit over the years, recently celebrating their collective 70th birthdays at Heritage Days in June. She earned a B.S. in Psychology from Western Illinois University in 1975, and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Western Michigan University in 1985. She received two National Research Service Awards for post-doctoral study, in 1985 at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Department of Psychology, and in 1991 at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology. Thereafter, she served as a Research Scientist for the Minnesota Department of Health from 1995 to 2004 in both the Diabetes and Maternal and Child Health Programs. She also served as an Assistant Professor at Southern Mississippi University in Hattiesburg (1987-1991) and was on the faculty at Macalester College in St. Paul (1994, 1995, 2000). In her retirement, she counseled adolescent, adult, and geriatric patients, many dealing with dementia and chronic pain, as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with Psychology Specialists, which she found very rewarding. She was an expert in improving health habits through Cognitive Therapies, and during treatment of her own health at the Mayo Clinic Hospital, several of her doctors inquired about her use of relaxation techniques.
Janel was a brilliant and generous woman, who found life-long joy in horses, gardening, delicious food, art, music, and nature. She loved hiking on her farm south of Macomb and watching the songbirds and other animals who visited there. She was an accomplished pianist, guitarist, and vocalist--studying for a time with the noted Irish singer Katie McMahon of Riverdance Troupe. Her musical interests ranged from classical to Celtic to rock-and-roll. As a teen she adored the Beatles, seeing them many times and was lucky enough to win first row tickets for their 1964 Chicago concert.
Janel treasured her family and endeavored to keep close relations across the miles that sometimes separated them. Like her mother, Kay, Janel was an avid genealogist, who conducted extensive research on the Harris and Kenner families, making trips to Locke, NY, Mystic, Connecticut, and Mt. Carmel, Kentucky, thereby extending knowledge of the two family lines. Locally, she curated an extensive collection of privately owned artifacts and documents, dating back more than 150 years, and donated them to Western Illinois University Archives Library for the benefit of the public interested in the early history of west-central Illinois. She was inducted into the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2018, and maintained an active role in Clan MacQuarrie.
Janel met Thomas W. “Tom” Storie through the Minnesota Coalition of Scottish Clans, and they married on June 12, 2004 at St. Clement's Church in Rodel, Scotland, on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. They were married for over 10 years and remained close companions for the rest of her life. He was a valued caregiver until her death.
Throughout her life, Janel held a strong faith in God's blessings. She shared her love of life, her beautiful smile, delightful laugh and wry sense of humor to the very end.
Janel was preceded in death by her parents; her grandparents William R. Harris (Dorothy), Arie Opal (Kenner) Harris, Sylvester Lawson, and Madge Edith (Larrabee) Kleckner; and her two beloved Arabian horses, Zarathustra “Zara” and Adjohvi “Solas.” She is survived by a loving, extended family: her sisters, Jean F. Harris (Steve Gunn) and Emily Sue Harris Gale (Sean); her niece, Kathryn Harris Gunn; nephews Alexander Harris Gunn (Hannah Jahnke) and Harrison Peder Gale; and her former husband Thomas W. Storie. She is also survived by several aunts and uncles, as well as numerous cousins.
Visitation will be held at 1:00 pm, with services to immediately follow at 2:00 pm on Monday, December 16, 2019 at the First Presbyterian Church of Macomb, where Janel served as a Deacon, Moderator of the Deacons, and Co-Facilitator of a Discernment Process for the Session. Rev. Erin Marth will officiate. Following a private burial at the Kenner plot at Oakwood Cemetery, a reception will take place at the church at 3:30 pm. Light refreshments will be served. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church of Macomb or to a private fund to help preserve her farm as a natural space.
Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral Home in Macomb is in charge of arrangements.
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