DIMMICK TOWNSHIP — Janis Reese Zukowski, 74, of Dimmick Township, rural LaSalle, while surrounded by members of her loving family, died Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, following a nearly 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease.
Jan was born July 31, 1938, in Orange, N.J., the daughter of Earl and Mildred (Lebo) Ewald. Her father's occupation resulted in her living in several cities, eventually locating in Normal, Ill. It was there, while attending a summer school class at Illinois State Normal University, that she met her husband-to-be, Don Zukowski.
Jan will be remembered for her 18 years as a waitress at Peru's former Red Door Inn restaurant, where she worked her way from a beginning waitress, to a senior waitress, who also trained and hired waitress staff. Now, some years later, she and a number of her waitress trainees and other Red Door associates, remained dear friends … meeting periodically as "The Red Door Girls" and The Birthday Girls."
Jan, during the past more than 30 years, also has become known as "The Log Home Lady" who along with her husband, Don, have designed, sold and delivered log home materials throughout Illinois, and to several other states. Jan worked so very well with people, and she became well-versed with the log home industry, generally.
Jan graduated from high school at Geneva, Ill., the Class of 1956, where she was a clarinet player in the school band and a varsity cheerleader. She also attended Purdue University, where she studied French and psychology, and she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.
Jan maintained her involvement as a log home representative and as a waitress, while at the same time, raising two children, Amy Linn (Tad) Lucas of Normal and Brian Lee (Katharine) Zukowski of Palos Heights.
Janis Reese Zukowski is survived by her husband, Don; her two children, Amy and Brian; and by a brother, Craig Ewald of Varna. Also surviving are five grandchildren, Meaghan and Branden Lucas of Normal, and Amara, Ava and Audra Zukowski of Palos Heights; a sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Floyd Pinter of Princeton; and nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Mildred Ewald; and by her in-laws, Frank and Ruth Zukowski, formerly of the Princeton-Malden area.
Jan loved nature, plants and animals, her flower garden, and the birds feeding on her back patio. But more than that, Jan dearly loved her log home and six acres in the country, adjacent to the Little Vermilion River north of LaSalle. She loved it so much, and said it so often, that she will always be remembered as having said … "Don't you just love it … out here?"
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Ptak Funeral Home, Peru, with Pastor Oscar Shepherd officiating, assisted by radio personality Lanny Slevin. Cremation will follow.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday in the funeral home and also one hour prior to the services Saturday in the funeral home.
Memorials may be directed to St. Margaret's Hospice, Spring Valley; OSF St. Francis Medical Center, Peoria; the Alzheimer's Association; or the Malden Methodist Church in Malden.