Janet Holden Hoopes died in the early morning hours of April 3rd, 2021. Born in Idaho Falls, Idaho on April 9th of 1935, Janet lost her father at the age of 5. Refusing to accept governmental help, her mother moved Janet and her sister Kathryn to Pomona, California to be near family, and began working 6 days a week. Unable to care for her two children during the summer months, Janet’s mother sent them to stay with a long-time friend who owned a working sheep ranch in southeastern Idaho. Janet found some of the greatest joy in her life in Idaho, herding sheep riding horseback in the high desert wilderness of the Birch Creek valley in the Sawtooth mountains.
The family had very little money, but during the school year that did not prevent Janet from aspiring to and winning an elite beauty contest, being named LA County Fair Princess in 1953. But the following summer, her path was diverted, as she contracted polio. Entering the care of a Sister Kenny hospital, she eventually regained her ability to walk, and began an earnest pursuit of academia, being admitted to the University of California Berkeley. At UC-Berkeley, she met and married John Hoopes, and gave birth shortly after graduation to Elizabeth Jane. The young family soon moved to Boston, Massachusetts so that John could pursue his PhD in Engineering, and a second child, Wesley John, was born. After accepting a professorship with tenure track at the University of Wisconsin, the family moved to Madison, and a third child was born, Thomas Holden. As John became increasingly involved in research and teaching, Janet wanted to have a house for her children, and so went to work to supplement income, accepting a teaching job at Madison Area Technical College. Her lifelong pursuit of excellence again surfaced, and she initiated the reading program at MATC which still flourishes today. Somehow, she also found time during this period to restart her pursuit of academia and the goal of achieving a doctorate in English Literature at UW-Madison. She was aided in this pursuit by the addition of her mother and sister who came to live with the family and helped care for the children. But Janet’s path again was thwarted when her mother died, her husband’s time was completely taken work at the University, and her sister, suffering from schizophrenia, was unable to take care of the young children by herself. Believing her children were more important than her own advancement, Janet left the PhD program despite having fulfilled all of the requisite course work. But again, the innate desire to apply herself to the fullest surfaced, and, not content with the life of a homemaker, Janet began an antique business out of her home in 1973 with no formal business training. Yet, the business prospered and grew, becoming Janet’s Antiques which still operates in Madison, almost 50 years later. More than this, not content with being a successful antique dealer, Janet got her real estate broker’s license in the early 1990s, and immediately displayed acumen. Foreseeing the westward expansion of Madison, she purchased a small 10 acre farmette at this time near Holy Name Seminary on the far west side of Madison. This small parcel of land would soon become a valuable key piece for the University of Wisconsin in a proposed Research park. Janet then used the sale of this property to fulfill a lifelong dream, a return to the love of her youth–a 100-acre farm with 5 horses, a riding arena and a barn. Janet Holden Hoopes never stopped overcoming obstacles. She was an astute business woman, shrewd about trends in real estate and a connoisseur of antiques. Yet in all that she achieved, Janet never stopped loving and giving herself to her family and friends. Mom, grandma, great- grandma, we are here, we are so blessed because of your love.
Janet is preceded in death by her former husband, John Hoopes, her parents and sister, Kathryn. She is survived by her children, daughter and partner in Janet’s Antiques, Elizabeth Jane Barber, Wesley and Sabrina, three grandsons, John and Will and Danny, and two granddaughters, Genny and Sarah, and one great-grandson, Nathan.
A Visitation for Janet will be held on Friday, April 9 at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, from 10:30 am until the time of Service at 12:30 PM. Interment to follow at Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison.
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