Janetha Girotto had a natural gift to relate, guide and inspire others to reach for higher goals and dreams, selflessly without any thought of recognition. She was a lifelong teacher and coach with an infectious smile and boundless energy. A beloved mother, grandmother and wife. Everyone who encountered her saw her glitter! With heavy hearts, we share that Janetha Ann Girotto, 81, passed away Aug. 25, 2018, at the Mayo Clinic, St Mary's Campus, after an unexpected illness.
Janetha was born to Carl and Marie Schmalzried in Dighton, Kan., on Sept. 23, 1936. She graduated from Kansas University with a bachelor's degree in music education. There she met the love of her life, John, while he was waiting tables at her sorority house. They were married June 18, 1960, in Dighton. John and Janetha moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she started teaching music at Hoover Elementary School. Then, she helped to open Taft Middle School, where many lifelong friends were made. When she left the profession, she dedicated her energy to her beloved boys (all three!), her large extended family and community.
She helped to establish the Cedar Valley Montessori School and was a supporter of CRAG (Cedar Rapids Academy of Gymnastics) with whom both of her boys competed. Janetha even became a gym teacher herself for a book, "Introducing Gymnastics" by Rich Harris. This text was written to introduce gymnastics education into elementary schools. Her choirs routinely performed to full auditoriums, and we fondly remember the musical story of "The Prodigal Son" at St. Paul's Church. Her energy and glitter touched so many lives, inspiring all to go one step further and then another step further.
Music was a large part of her life, teaching and performing. Janetha was a founding member and the director of the Cedar Rapids Symphony "New Notes." Together, the "New Notes" sang the musical story of the CRSO throughout the 1970s. She was a member of the Kennedy High School Foundation for the Performing Arts Hall of Fame. Her creative, performing spirit was felt in every card she sent. Glitter never was left out of the annual Christmas card that summarized the year's family events in a rhyme or theme.
Glitter was found at every Kansas basketball game. She made a point to let everyone who graduated from a different school know that they would not have a chance at the basketball Final Four. Even Dick Vitale called her, "Miss KU" when they crossed paths at breakfast in Florida.
It is said that teachers touch eternity. None can tell where their influence stops. Janetha was an inspirational, extraordinary teacher, musician and friend to so many. When you were stuck or feeling down, a call to Janetha and a bowl of homemade ice cream would set things toward recovery. Indeed, everyone was inspired who received a gift of her creative spirit in the form of a personalize birthday card. Reach for the stars because that is where the glitter is found. She certainly brought that glitter to us all.
Those left to cherish Janetha include her loving husband of 58 years, John; and her two boys, John Alan (wife Marissa of Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Jay (wife Lynn of Seattle, Wash.); grandchildren, John Russell, Janetha (Janna), Amelia and Kaitlyn; five sisters and brothers; 24 nieces and nephews; and countless friends.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at Cedar Memorial. A service of remembrance will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at St. Paul's United Methodist Church with burial at Cedar Memorial to follow. Memorial contributions may be made to Cedar Valley Montessori School and the Kennedy Foundation for the Performing Arts.
Please leave a message or tribute to the Girotto family on the website, www.cedarmemorial.com under Obituaries.