Janet Avis Lewis 1947 – 2004: a tribute.   Leave a comment



Although I have mentioned it on this blog each year since I started it 2011, I make no apologies for remembering the anniversary of my first wife Janet’s death on the 6th August 2004. This year is especially poignant as it marks the 10th anniversary, so I have uploaded a post dedicated to the memory of a very special lady.

Janet was born in Long Eaton,  a small town that straddles the border of south Derbyshire and south Nottinghamshire. She was very much tied to the area until the age of 19 when she left home to study to be a librarian in Newcastle. Later she worked in libraries in Cornwall, Knaresborough and later on a mobile library based at Sherburn-in-Elmet in east Yorkshire. She moved to Leeds, whilst still working in Sherburn, in 1973. Janet shared a house with Margaret Clay, a nice lady who stood and eventually was elected to Leeds City Council on behalf of the Liberal Party (that was before they were known as the Liberal Democrats). My school and university friend Nigel was acting as campaign manager and that is how in March 1974, Janet and I met.

We got married in September 1976 and bought a house in the eastern suburbs of Leeds, but we weren’t there long as a promotion landed me a job in Poole. It might have been a promotion for me but it was a demotion for Janet. In the Thatcherite era jobs in public services and especially in libraries were being axed and she never got work in her profession again, but had to make do with series of jobs in factories, cafes, canteens and eventually a post office.

In some ways life gave Janet a rough ride, most notably in our failure to start a family, something which affected her deeply. She received support from the local church and made many good friends there. She also took up research into family history declaring that ‘if  she couldn’t take the family forwards into the future she would research it into the past’. In this she was spectacularly successful finding ancestors that dated back as far as mid 1600’s and distant relatives in many far flung parts of the world.

Although not taking it to the obsessive degree that I do, Janet enjoyed birdwatching and saw almost all of the regular species in Britain and Europe. She shared my love of remote places, but what she really loved was remote communities and loved to visit and stay with those who made a living ‘on the edge’. It was a particular ambition of hers to visit Eskimos, or the Inuit as they are more correctly known. She achieved that ambition in 2002 when we took a flight to Greenland and visited an Inuit settlement. Our last trip together was in February 2004 when we visited Sri Lanka.

Everything was normal on the 27th of July 2004 when we parted to go to work, but later that morning whilst serving a customer in the post office, she suffered a massive cerebral aneurysm. She would have died on the spot had not an ambulance been passing, but it was to little avail as she never regained conciousness and on the 5th August the life support was terminated. She died the following morning.

Of course without my partner of 30 years my life fell apart and although there were the occasional highlight, it was fully three years before it got back to normal. Although I have a happy married life now, I will always miss and will never forget Janet.

Janet’s mother died a couple of years after she did, followed soon after by her two remaining aunties. Now the only contact I have with her family is exchanging Christmas cards with two of her cousins. That chapter of my life is firmly closed.

Although I took many photos of Janet nearly all are on slides and I haven’t got a functioning slide scanner, so the following are restricted to a few old scanned photos and a couple of digital pictures I took towards the end of her life.





Janet as a baby. Even at this age her thick, black hair was evident.


As a toddler.


With pet tortoise.



On holiday with her mother and (I think) cousin Mike



Janet in 1974 just after we met. You might think I was trying for an arty soft focus look but its really just crap photography.


Janet in 1976, I was into black and white photography in those days.



Janet at our wedding in September 1976



The church in Long Eaton where we got married was opposite the pub and we got a lot of ‘I pronounce you man and barmaid’ jokes after this photo was published.


1977 in Morocco. Janet and some scruff with a beard.


Janet in Hawaii

Janet in Hawaii in 2003.


Jan at Nottm May04

This is the last photo I took of Janet, in a friends garden in Nottingham on the late May bank holiday in 2004.



Janet’s ashes are buried in the churchyard at Lytchett Minster. The original stone had raised lettering and this was badly damaged by strimmers used to cut the grass. I have had the stone replaced to coincide with the 10th anniversary of her passing.



Posted August 6, 2014 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Tagged with

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: